Port Authority Continues Rollout of Comprehensive Integrity Reforms with Launch of Updated Employee Code of Ethics

NEW YORK, NY-The Port Authority today unveiled another critical component of its comprehensive integrity reforms by launching an updated Employee Code of Ethics that meets global best practice standards and consolidates provisions from prior codes and from other Port Authority regulations.

The revised code provides a clear, concise roadmap for employees, based on a series of guiding principles:

  • ● Financial Integrity & Improper Payments: Employees must ensure total integrity in all financial and contract transactions; must never solicit or accept improper payments or favors for work that the Port Authority does; must ensure that business records created, approved or reviewed are accurate and complete; and must use Port Authority property only for agency business.

  • ● Fair Employment Practices: Employees must follow inclusionary workplace policies of the Port Authority; must not discriminate, must not engage in sexual harassment; and must avoid involvement in employment decisions involving relatives.

  • ● Conflicts of Interest: Employees cannot use their position to achieve personal financial gain or other advantage, and must avoid the appearance of doing so.

  • ● Workplace Health and Safety and Environmental Regulations Compliance: Employees must always follow occupational safety and health standards.

  • ● Confidentiality: Employees must not disclose confidential information.

  • ● Whistleblowers: No retaliation of any kind is permitted against those who raise integrity concerns.

Implementation of the Employee Code of Ethics includes a mandatory computer-based ethics and integrity training program for employees consistent with protections for whistleblowers and current best practices for ethics and compliance programs in the public and private sector. Employees in certain jobs will be required to complete specialized training. The first phase of training for employees will cover rules regarding (1) Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance (2) Gifts, Gratuities, Business Expenses and offers of employment and (3) Protections for whistleblowers. In the future, training programs will be required in the remaining areas covered by the code.

Non-union employees will be given 30 days to complete the online courses once they are launched. In the coming months, on-site, face-to-face training will be rolled out to union employees. New hires will be required to complete the training upon joining the agency.

“Maintaining the public’s trust in this agency and its employees is a top priority for this Board and critical for us to move forward with our mission of building and operating the region’s major transportation infrastructure,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “This revised code details to employees in direct and plain language what’s expected of them and makes it clear to the public that this agency will have zero tolerance for any ethical lapses.”

“Our goal is to clearly communicate to the entire agency that all employees must obey the law and adhere to a strict code of conduct that requires honesty in all financial matters and exemplary conduct in the workplace. Anything less will not be tolerated,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “The public has the right to expect us to do the right thing all day, every day. We must ensure that every employee understands what’s expected of them and that we’ve created a culture of zero tolerance for unethical conduct of any kind.”

“We now have a comprehensive integrity program in place, but we will continue to review and strengthen it to ensure we meet the best-in-class standards set by top flight private and public sector firms,” said Port Authority Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Debra Torres.

The Employee Code of Ethics and its companion training program are the most recent of the six new measures announced by the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners last September to help ensure ethical conduct at all levels of the agency. The measures set out by the September Board resolution include codes of conduct for commissioners, employees and vendors, best-practice compliance training for employees, adoption of a False Claims Policy that offers financial rewards for reporting fraudulent activity; and the hiring of a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer.