A highly critical report
on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, released on Tuesday, described the agency as a "challenged and dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership, a siloed underlying bureaucracy, poorly coordinated capital planning processes, insufficient cost controls, and a lack of transparent and effective oversight of the World Trade Center (the “WTC”) program that has obscured full awareness of billions of dollars in exposure to the port authority."
The report by Navigant Consulting said the cost of redeveloping the World Trade Center following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has "grown significantly and gross costs will likely exceed approximately $14.8 billion, an increase of $3.8 billion since the last forecast in 2008. The port authority’s net funding obligation has grown from approximately $6.0 billion to approximately $7.7 billion, before consideration of additional potential net cost exposures of approximately $800 million."
The audit of the bi-state agency was ordered last year by the governors of New York and New Jersey after sharp increases in tolls on the port's bridges and tunnels were announced.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the report "finds capital planning is plagued by management deficiencies that have resulted in a doubling of debt in 10 years as the agency drifted from its core responsibility as a transportation infrastructure organization.
"Coupled with the consultant’s assessment of the impact of ‘add-on’ compensation for agency personnel – an institutionalized practice that has contributed to an unacceptable 19 percent increase in gross compensation in just five years – the interim report makes clear that wide-ranging reform is long overdue," they said.
Port Authority Executive Pat Foye said the "consultant’s preliminary review underscores the need for the port authority to refocus.
"A poorly coordinated capital planning process, insufficient cost controls and a lack of transparent and effective oversight of the World Trade Center program that has obscured full awareness of billions of dollars in exposure to the port authority all played a role in getting us to where we are today," he said.
Foye added that "having the World Trade Center as the focal point of the agency’s work over the last decade has led to mission drift from our core role. We have much work to do to fulfill the agency’s mission as the provider of critical transportation infrastructure needs for the region and as an engine for economic growth and job creation."
The port authority is self-sufficient and does not receive tax dollars from either state. In addition to bridges and tunnels between the two states, it operates marine terminals and five airports, the PATH commuter train and bus terminals. It also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. — Chris Dupin