CONTACT: Bill Capone
Phone: 717.831.7540

Carl DeFebo
Phone: 717.920.7176
October 21, 2014
Advisory Committee Recommends Improvements to PA Turnpike Policies

Recommendations designed to improve operations and transparency at public agency
HARRISBURG, PA (Oct. 21, 2014) – Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton today announced that an advisory committee, which was convened to review current policies and procedures, has recommended several improvements to the Turnpike's operations. The recommendations include strengthening ethics training for its employees and vendors; adding an independent professional to review major bid projects; enhancing the agency's transparency, and encouraging periodic independent oversight of turnpike policies and operations.

The Turnpike Commissioners in March 2013 directed Compton to appoint the three-member committee to review operations, following the release of a statewide grand jury presentment alleging wrongdoing by former Turnpike employees and vendors. The advisory committee was created as an independent committee with the ability to make any recommendation to improve the operations of the Turnpike.

The committee members are: M.G. Patel of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, a former PennDOT Chief Highway Engineer and construction company executive; Maureen E. Lally-Green of Cranberry Township, Butler County, a retired Judge of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and a member of the State Board of Education, and John L. Gedid of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, a former Vice Dean of Widener University School of Law and a retired law professor. The committee held its first meeting on July 11, 2013.

"When we began our review, we were pleased to discover that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission had already adopted several, significant reforms to its business practices," said Lally-Green. "However, we determined that there were further steps that could be taken to promote a culture of ethics, efficiency and trust at the Pennsylvania Turnpike."

The advisory committee issued a report detailing 10 recommendations for improving the contracting procedures and business practices of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Among the recommendations, the Advisory Committee listed ways to strengthen the Turnpike's ethics policies, including requiring both Turnpike employees and vendors to receive training in the agency's Code of Conduct; requiring potential bidders for Turnpike projects to affirm they have no conflicts of interest, and continuing to encourage employees and vendors to report unethical behavior.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission today accepted the advisory committee's report at its regularly scheduled public meeting. The advisory committee will continue its mission for another year, meeting quarterly to review the Turnpike's progress on implementing its recommendations.

"The commissioners would like to thank the committee members for their hard work. They spent many hours reviewing documents, interviewing Turnpike staff and attending meetings. The result of that effort is a report that will help advance our efforts to improve the Pennsylvania Turnpike," said Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chairman William K. Lieberman.
Compton said, "The committee members should be commended for the amount of time, energy and effort they invested in reviewing the operations of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We have come a long way in creating a culture of ethics, efficiency and transparency at the Turnpike. I am looking forward to reviewing this report to continue our efforts."

A summary of the Advisory Committee's recommendations includes:
  1. Strengthen the ethics training requirements at the PTC for employees, consultants, construction contractors, vendors and other business partners.
  2. Enhance the process for evaluating the procurement of professional services and construction contracts to provide for greater transparency and accountability.
  3. Establish a procedure for periodic reviews of policies and procedures for continuous improvement purposes.
  4. Improve transparency of business practices through more robust public outreach.
  5. Institutionalize the improvements by adopting all recommendations as part of the PTC Policy Manual.
  6. Establish a policy for continual implementation of these recommendations, including a process for participation of an independent advisory person or group.
  7. Prepare succession planning for key PTC positions, particularly for the chief operating officer, chief engineer, and all department heads.
  8. Develop a structured transition process for new commissioners and a new CEO.
  9. Establish vision, mission, goal, objective and values for PTC to institutionalize recently implemented ethics, integrity, transparency and quality of services.
  10. Continue to promote and make best use of initiatives to minimize overlap of common operational activities such as training and co-locating maintenance sites with PennDOT.

For a full copy of the Advisory Committee Report, please click here.