Report Says NJ, NY Port Authority Needs ‘Top-to-Bottom Overhaul’
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is redeveloping the World Trade Center, needs a “top-to-bottom overhaul” because of poor management and a lack of cost controls, according to an interim audit released by its board.
The cost of the World Trade Center project in Lower Manhattan has grown to $14.8 billion from about $11 billion estimated in 2008, the audit found. After third-party reimbursements, the net cost to the authority has climbed to $7.7 billion from $6 billion, says a Bloomberg report.
The auditors found “a challenged and dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership, a siloed underlying bureaucracy, 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,” according to their report.
The rise in trade center costs “was driven by policy decisions on both sides” of the Hudson River, Authority Chairman David Samson said in the Bloomberg report. In rushing to open the Sept. 11 memorial before the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, “decisions were made and management controls slipped,” he said.
“Those decisions also caused the priorities of the Port Authority to be reset and had a distorted effect on the authority’s allocation of resources,” Samson said in the report.
Pushing to get the memorial done in time increased costs at the adjacent mass-transit hub, a more than $3 billion project designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, according to the audit. Costs also mushroomed because the authority took on work related to the memorial, New York City subway operations and site security, the report said.
Some of those costs were part of getting the memorial garden -- with its waterfalls on the footprints of the two destroyed towers -- completed on schedule, according to the report.
Samson, along with Rechler, and Commissioners William Schuber and Jeffrey Lynford, formed the four-member committee that conducted the review, which the governors ordered after an audit by New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found the agency had paid $85.7 million in overtime in 2010 to 5,360 of its employees of its 6,977 employees, the report said.