Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Oakland Port Touts Financial Policy Improvements

The Port of Oakland, which was hit last year by a misuse of funds scandal, provided a progress report on March 28 to its Board of Port Commissioners regarding its efforts to strengthen policies to prevent future financial misdeeds.

Updates included conducting a first-ever port purchasing card audit in 2012 and revising the port’s purchasing card policy based on audit recommendations; conducting an independent investigation of improper expenditures; the resignation of the port’s former Executive Director and Maritime Director; and the hiring of a new port attorney, with background in a variety of legal areas including ethics.

The port says it has also provided additional ethics training for employees; set up a public webpage related to accountability and transparency that includes steps the port is taking and a timeline; and revising travel policy to provide clarity, guidance and responsibility.

“It’s a milestone relative to the commitment that we, the port staff and the Board, made to the public to become a more accountable and transparent organization,” Port of Oakland Acting Executive Director Deborah Ale Flint said.

The changes were the result of a fall 2012 scandal in which then-Executive Director Omar Benjamin and then-Maritime Director James Kwon were found to have spent $4,500 entertaining shipping executives at strip club in Houston, Texas 2008 during a business conference.