The South Jersey Transportation Authority wasted thousands of dollars due to mismanagement and lack of oversight, according to an audit released last week by the state’s office of inspector general.
The OIG report indicated that the authority has corrected much of the examples of waste and misuse of public funds due to the immediate recommendations of inspector general Mary Jane Cooper and the authority’s new leadership.
The SJTA oversees the 47-mile Atlantic City Expressway and the Atlantic City International Airport.
The year-long review found that the authority paid three law firms yearly retainers of $30,000 for minimal work. Once the OIG questioned such billing, the agency lowered the retainers and then finally eliminated the payments. The probe also uncovered thousands of dollars in double billing and other errors in invoices from law firms, and an outside attorney was improperly designated as an employee in order to receive pension credits.
“When OIG began its review, almost everywhere we looked, we found either an absence of policies and procedures, weak and antiquated policies and procedures that were ignored, and a disregard for the value of public assets,” Cooper said in a statement. “These deficiencies and this attitude contributed to a waste of resources at SJTA for several years. New leadership understood the significance of the findings and the importance of addressing them.”
The report recommended implementing an internal auditor model that is independent of the authority’s management.