Christie Administration Continues to Implement Aggressive Reforms to Stop Abuse and Curb Wasteful Spending
(Trenton) -- Embracing Governor Chris Christie’s call to reform government by putting an end to abuse and wasteful spending, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority approved four measures today to cut the cost of employee pay and benefits. This is just the latest action in a continuing focus to reform the Authority from the bottom up.
Last week, Turnpike Authority Chairman James Simpson and Turnpike Authority Executive Director Ronnie Hakim announced a series of far reaching reforms to end out-dated and fiscally imprudent compensation and procurement practices at the Authority.
The measures, which were approved today by the Board of Commissioners, eliminate unnecessary perks:
· toll-free passage for employees commuting to and from work;
· annual “cash-in” by non-union employees of unused sick and vacation time;
· future increases in longevity payments to non-bargaining employees for years of service; and
· separation payments made to non-bargaining employees who retire with ten or more years of full-time service.
“We promised real reform, and we are delivering,” said Turnpike Authority Chairman James Simpson. “Governor Christie’s charge has been clear from the day he took office – root out and eliminate wasteful and abusive spending practices. The reforms we adopted today are an important step in a process that began 10 months ago and will continue until we’ve met the Governor’s call to ensure that every dollar we spend is spent wisely.”
Recently, the Authority implemented new process to review bills and control costs, including fees for outside counsel. In addition, when the Authority advertises for new outside counsel and general engineering services by early next year, the RFP for those services will be structured to give the Authority more control over fees.
An outside firm was hired through a competitive process in July to conduct an analysis of the Authority’s employee health benefits in order to make informed decisions about the most cost-effective way of providing them. The Authority also began a thorough wage review in July to see how the salary structure compares to Executive Branch departments. The review is intended to bring the Turnpike Authority’s compensation in line with Christie Administration policies.
The Authority has also been working to improve its procurement processes to ensure that it does not overpay for goods and services. The most recent change, made in conjunction with the State Treasurer, was in the procurement of underwriters for the upcoming bond sale. The changes, which were designed to make the process more fair and transparent, were welcomed by the financial industry and resulted in very competitive pricing for underwriting services.
In addition to the reforms already adopted, the Authority will eliminate in all union contracts as they expire in 2011 sick and vacation cash-ins, future longevity payments and separation bonuses, as well as bonuses for birthdays, anniversaries, snow duty and holidays.
“We are turning over every stone as we search for ways to run our business more efficiently and more transparently,” Hakim said. “The people who pay our tolls and buy our bonds deserve no less.”