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For Immediate Release
April 1, 2013

Port of Oakland Provides Policy Improvement Update

Staff outlines policy revisions and corrective steps to promote accountability

Oakland, CA – April 1, 2013 – Port of Oakland staff provided a progress report on its policy strengthening efforts to the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners at the regularly scheduled public Port Board meeting on Thursday, March 28, 2013. Updates included a new purchase card policy (PCard), other important policy revisions being made, employee ethics training, and communications, all oriented toward changing the Port culture to one that adheres to the highest standards of ethics, accountability and tranparency. Port staff commited to this work in December 2012.

Port of Oakland Acting Executive Director Deborah Ale Flint (Al’-lee Flint’) said, “Today is a very important day. 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. These policies do not require board approval but the issues that we have faced are so substantial for the Port that we knew it was appropriate and essential to bring them to the Board and get the Board’s affirmation that these are the appropriate policies and right direction that reflect the new standards of transparency of the Port.”

The Port’s self assessment began with its strategic planning process in 2009-2010, and accelerated in the fall of 2012 when its staff learned that top leadership was involved in expenses that conflicted with the Port’s values. Deborah Ale Flint stated, “We recognized that there was a gap in our policies that allowed areas of the Port to function in a way that did not align with our core values as an organization. We recognized that we needed to look at our policies in a comprehensive manner so that we could make changes in a more meaningful way to transform our organization.” Ale Flint added, “We must be the change we want to see. The work that everyone has done across the organization is a reflection of that taking hold. This is just the beginning of what we need to do in this new era of transformation.”

Port Board President Gilda Gonzales spoke on behalf of the Port Commissioners, “We too as a group take very seriously cultural change and are working sometimes painfully with each other to learn how to work more effectively, honestly and transparently. We are striving for that every time we are working together.” President Gonzales acknowledged the progress being made, “For all of us who experienced that very painful time in the organization’s history, I am celebrating today although this is a work in progress…I want to especially acknowledge our Acting Executive Director for her leadership in pushing this issue forward and having Port staff move in the right direction. I recognize we have a hundred pounds to lose and this is the first ten…We still have a lot more to do but, I do thank you (Ale Flint) on behalf of this Commission.”

The Port of Oakland reiterated a number of relevant previous actions and announced several specific updates on actions taken since December 2012:

  • Established a whistleblower hotline in 2010
  • Conducted the first Port purchasing card audit in 2012 (for Calendar Year 2011)
  • Conducted an independent investigation of improper expenditures that the media brought to the Port’s attention
  • Changed executive leadership for two key positions (Executive Director and Maritime Director; see senior staff bios)
  • Concluded an eight-month recruitment process and selected a new Port Attorney with background in a variety of legal areas including ethics; see senior staff bios
  • Revising and updating key policies with an inclusive and collaborative approach involving as many as 50 employees
  • Providing ethics training for Port employees far above that required by law
  • Set up a public webpage related to the Port’s commitment to accountability and transparency that includes the steps the Port is taking and a timeline

  • Revised the Port’s purchasing card (Pcard) policy based on audit recommendations; see document on the Port’s accountability and transparency webpage (implemented March 29, 2013)
  • Revising travel policy to provide clarity, guidance and responsibility
  • Both the Board and the Senior Staff conducted workshops to review their governance and operations, and adopted Statements of Intention that embody the values of the Port and new era at Port

Acting Executive Director Ale Flint affirmed, “Today is a symbol of the work that we are doing. We have dedicated ourselves to a new standard.”

Staff will present the next progress report on Port policy revisions in June 2013.

About the Port of Oakland:
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport, and 20 miles of waterfront. The Oakland seaport is the fifth busiest container port in the U.S.; Oakland International Airport is the second largest San Francisco Bay Area airport offering over 300 daily passenger and cargo flights; and the Port’s real estate includes commercial developments such as Jack London Square and hundreds of acres of public parks and conservation areas. Together, through Port operations and those of its tenants and users, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States. The Port of Oakland was established in 1927 and is an independent department of the City of Oakland. Connect with the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport through Facebook, or with the Port on Twitter, YouTube, and at www.portofoakland.com.

Media Contacts:

Robert Bernardo
Communications Manager
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1401
rbernardo@portoakland.com

Marilyn Sandifur
Communications Department
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1193
msandifur@portoakland.com

 

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