Pennsylvania’s legislature will hold a hearing next month on possible mismanagement at the Delaware River Port Authority.

Sen. John Rafferty, R-Chester/Montgomery, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, announced last week that the panel will meet in September regarding recent allegations of fiscal misconduct and political patronage at the bi-state agency.

Rafferty also asked Treasury Secretary Rob McCord to provide fiscal information on the authority that his office is set to receive Monday from the authority. 

The authority manages four toll bridges that connect Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It also oversees the PATCO commuter-rail line that runs from southeastern New Jersey to Philadelphia. The authority has $1.4 billion of outstanding debt, according to chief financial officer John Hanson.

The agency last week ended the practice of extending 100 free bridge passes to its employees after it terminated a car-allowance program. The agency’s former public safety director, Michael Joyce, resigned last month over reports that he gave an authority E-ZPass to his daughter. Joyce had a yearly car allowance of $9,000 on top of a $180,000 salary, according to DRPA’s website.

In addition, the authority last week released its overdue management audit. The last report came out in 2001 though it is due every five years. The authority’s board did not meet from December 2005 through April 2007 because the two states could not agree upon a dredging issue in the Delaware River.

The audit, compiled by TransTech Management Inc., categorized the authority’s effectiveness and efficiency  as “acceptable.” To improve operations, the auditors suggested that the authority add personnel to understaffed departments, reform the employee performance review process, and base future hirings on qualifications to avoid political influence or nepotism, among other recommendations.

In addition, the report calls for the elimination of two senior positions — the assistant to the chairman and the assistant to the vice chairman. This would allow the chief executive officer be the sole director of board actions and serve as the source of all incoming and outgoing board communications.

“The 'dual-reporting relationship’ allowed by this arrangement is a deterrent to good business practices and sound organizational design,” the report said.

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