NY-NJ Port Authority announces centralization of security operations

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Board of Commissioners will consolidate all of its security functions into one department as part of major reforms aimed at cutting costs and modernizing the agency.

The new Chief Security Officer (CSO), who the Authority will identify in a nationwide search, will direct all elements related to agency security matters, with the Security Department assuming full operational control of the Port Authority Police Department.

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According to the Port Authority, the decision was made in response to a recent study by the Chertoff Group, a security-consulting firm co-founded by former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

The Chertoff study examined more than 20,000 pages of documents and conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with Port Authority executive leadership, operational managers and union leaders.

The team found the agency’s security structure to be highly decentralized, with complex internal procedures that resulted in a lack of coordination with respect to important security issues; the absence of a clear sense of mission; and inadequate lines of responsibility and operational control over the organization.

“I commend the Board of Commissioners and executive leadership team for taking the initiative to conduct an end-to-end review of their security operations,” said Chertoff.

“While there is no doubt the Port Authority has made significant investments to strengthen security since 9/11, applying these additional measures will establish clear lines of authority, improve decision making and help safety and security personnel more effectively carry out their responsibilities.”

The Board’s resolution establishes a temporary transition team, led by Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye and Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni to help assemble the new security division.

The Chertoff Group will assist in the transition planning.

Earlier this month, the Port Authority also requested that the Bayonne Bridge ‘Raise the Roadway’ project be considered for expedited review.

The Port Authority has committed $1 billion to the project to increase the navigational clearance of the Bayonne Bridge from 151 feet to 215 feet, in anticipation of the Panama Canal widening completion in 2014.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey conceives, builds, operates and maintains infrastructure critical to the New York/New Jersey region’s trade and transportation network. These facilities include America’s busiest airport system, marine terminals and ports, the PATH rail transit system, six tunnels and bridges between New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, and the World Trade Center.

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