POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

DRPA Names Acting Inspector General

By Christie Duffy
Correspondent

In Camden, the Delaware River Port Authority’s audit committee met for the first time since the resignation of the authority’s top watchdog.

They named David Aubrey to temporarily serve as the acting inspector general, after Inspector General Thomas Raftery quit late last month. He is officially finishing up on the job this week.

Raftery is resigning amid allegations of a “hostile work environment.” He reportedly claims it “fostered an environment that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for [the office of the inspector general] to obtain the necessary information and/or documents from staff in order to perform effective audits.”

I asked the president and CEO of the authority to respond to the allegations. He told a different story.

“I think that some of it was relative to differences of opinion over the way he should approach the job. But it seemed to me, based on both the letter of resignation and the things that I’ve heard, that it was in large measure due to compensation issues,” said DRPA President and CEO John Hansen.

Raftery also reportedly asked for a raise, but was denied by the board. He was hired in 2012 to investigate fraud and waste at the agency.

The authority owns and operates the Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross toll bridges and the PATCO commuter rail line. The operation has been the subject of public scrutiny for years. In 2012, an investigation by the New Jersey comptroller’s office found a culture of weak policies that contributed to wasteful spending and mismanagement of toll payer funds. The authority is also the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.

The authority’s CEO says they did move forward on an ethics policy, that addresses issues of nepotism and prohibiting gifts. But he says the audit committee did not address issues raised by the outgoing inspector general.

When asked if he plans to, Hansen said, “I can’t speak for the board on that matter. He is an employee of the board. I’m sure we will address those matters.”

Work is now underway on another audit. This one focusing on PATCO management. To be followed by a close look at bridge operations.