NY port authority to hire CSO, overhaul security operations

Monday, April 2, 2012

NEW YORK—The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced a major reform of its security operations in an effort to consolidate security operations.

The agency's board of commissioners voted on Thursday to hire its first Chief Security Officer who will oversee a new, stand-alone security department that will be in charge of security at all the agency's facilities, from the World Trade Center to John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to a news release.

The Port Authority will immediately begin a nation-wide search to fill this new CSO position.

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 Port Authority's board retained the Chertoff Group in May 2011 to perform a top-to-bottom study of the agency's management of security and agency-wide security operations. During the course of the study, the consultants examined more than 20,000 pages of documents and conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with Port Authority leadership, managers and union leaders, according to the news release.

Mr. Chertoff briefed the board members on the results of the study before they passed their unanimous resolution. While the study found the Port Authority has made impressive capital investments in the security of its critical facilities, such as the new World Trade Center, it also found its security operations 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," according to the release.

Chertoff commended the board for putting his firm's suggestions into practice. "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," Chertoff said in a statement.

"The Port Authority is responsible for some of the world's most critical transportation assets," said Port Authority Chairman David Samson. "Our creation of a centralized security department, overseeing the Port Authority's policing and our other security resources, will enhance our billions of dollars of investment in security infrastructure, improve security communications and responsiveness, and add to our security efforts."