DRPA watchdog resigns, alleges board meddling

In a blow to governmental transparency, the Delaware River Port Authority is losing its first inspector general, who cites board and management interference in his role “to root out fraud, corruption, and inefficiencies” at the bi-state agency.   See the full article below as reported by philly.com at: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140924_DRPA_watchdog_resigns__cites_board_meddling.html#cym4PE8zhcpMTQ4T.99

 Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer

September 23, 2014

 Thomas Raftery III, the inspector general of the Delaware River Port Authority, is resigning, complaining of interference by the DRPA board and a “hostile” workplace environment.

Raftery said in a draft letter dated Monday that his resignation would be effective Oct. 17.

Raftery, who was hired in 2012 as the DRPA’s first inspector general, has been at odds with many members of the board for months.

He was hired to root out fraud, corruption, and inefficiencies at the DRPA. He soon collided with managers and board members, who complained that the inspector general was vindictive and bullying.

“The independence of the IG and the [office of the inspector general] has been challenged and efforts undertaken to limit, if not eliminate, that independence,” Raftery said in the letter, addressed to top DRPA officials, including the board chairman, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.

Raftery said Tuesday that he has hired a lawyer to represent him in possible legal action against the DRPA.

“It’s time for a change,” said Raftery, a former FBI agent. “It’s been very difficult.”

He declined to elaborate on the reasons beyond his resignation letter, which said that “certain board members have attempted to influence the content of OIG reports. At least one board member has stated that he wants to be involved in deciding what a final OIG report states. This involvement by a board member/members interferes with the independence of the IG and OIG.”

The letter also said the DRPA “has fostered an environment that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for OIG to obtain the necessary information and/or documents from staff in order to perform effective audits. … The existing environment with the authority has made the IG and OIG ineffective.”

“I can no longer perform the position of IG in a manner that is consistent with professional standards, that is in the best interest of the authority, and most important, that is in the best interest of the toll payers,” it says.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a DRPA board member who chairs the audit committee that oversees the inspector general, said Tuesday he was disappointed that Raftery was leaving.

“I thought Tom had been doing a good job,” DePasquale said. “As the first inspector general, it was sort of a work in progress. … But if he feels he has to move on, I understand that.”

DePasquale said he and Cawley discussed Raftery’s impending departure Monday and agreed that “we need to move quickly” to replace the inspector general: “It’s a vital position. … We can’t allow it to remain open long.”

Raftery tried to get a raise to $165,000 from his current $130,000, and also failed in his efforts to get board permission to take on outside consulting work.

Now, he is setting up his own consulting business, Falcon Consulting Group, International, in Linwood, N.J., near his home.

Falcon’s website said the group “is comprised of former federal and state law enforcement officials and financial professionals with extensive experience in numerous functional areas such as business integrity and compliance, safety and security, investigations, threat assessment, and due diligence.”

The site describes Raftery as “one of the founders and managing partner of Falcon.” It says: “Mr. Raftery recently served” as the inspector general of the DRPA.

Under DRPA rules, management employees are not allowed to work outside jobs without board approval.

Raftery said Tuesday his new consulting agency “is not up and running. … It doesn’t have any contracts yet.”

“It’s a mechanism for after I leave DRPA. It’s my next adventure.”

DePasquale said: “We have rules in place to receive outside employment. … If he did that without following the proper steps, that would be a surprise.”