TRENTON – The Delaware River Port Authority said today many of the issues raised in a Comptroller’s Office report of the agency have been addressed through use of competitive procurements, and by focusing on its core mission of operating bridges and abandoning other economic development projects.
The Comptroller issued a report today that found hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable spending over the past decade.
The DRPA said that it also has hired a federal law enforcement official to be its inspector general and serve as an independent watchdog.
The agency reported that it takes the issues raised in the Comptroller’s report seriously and will conduct further reviews, such as regarding travel reimbursements.
Full text of the DRPA response:
“We appreciate the time, effort and dedication invested in the Office of the State Comptroller’s report, as well as the care taken to identify practices that we agree should not be repeated in the future.
Many of the topics identified in the report already have been addressed by the DRPA, and we appreciate that the OSC has recognized those efforts. For example:
- The DRPA is addressing deficiencies in insurance procurement and oversight by adopting a competitive procurement process and instituting a fixed-fee model that does not include percentage-based brokerage commissions. The public can be assured that any practice of fee-splitting by insurance brokers has been terminated and will be prohibited in the future.
- The DRPA will fund no new economic development projects. The authority agrees that it must focus its resources on its core mission of providing safe and effective means of travel for the public at a reasonable cost.
- The DRPA eliminated the Social and Civic Sponsorship Fund in 2010.
- The DRPA no longer provides E-ZPass benefits to present and former DRPA commissioners, nor are such benefits provided to DRPA staff other than as directed by a formal arbitration award.
- The DRPA has hired a federal law enforcement veteran to serve as inspector general, an office recently created by the Board of Commissioners to perform and coordinate investigations and audits and generally serve as an independent watchdog against potential fraud, waste, abuse and illegal activities within the authority. One of the inspector general’s first tasks will be to review this report and assist the board in taking appropriate follow-up action.
We take the concerns expressed by the OSC very seriously, and we will be taking steps to evaluate and address recommendations in the report as promptly as possible. For example, the DRPA will consider carefully the travel reimbursement policies of both states, as suggested in the report.
As a bi-state authority, the DRPA can avail itself of management expertise and guidance from both founder states. Governors of both states have had a substantial role at the DRPA, and we are confident that, with the oversight and support of the governors and all members of the Board of Commissioners, the DRPA can continue the process of reform and implement the recommendations contained in the report.
Again, we thank the Office of the State Comptroller on behalf of all DRPA toll payers, the general public and the DRPA itself for recommending ways to make the DRPA a better and more efficient public agency.
Concerns in 2010
The Comptroller’s Office initiated its investigation in 2010 after the governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania both raised concerns with practices and spending at the agency that operates four Delaware River bridges as well as a high-speed line across the river.