Spin Cycle

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ALBANY -- The leadership of the New York-New Jersey agency that was involved in the Bridgegate scandal has "fractured lines of authority" caused by the states' separate interests, according to a report released Thursday.

The preliminary report by a special panel looking into the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey cited the management structure and ethics guidelines as needing substantial improvement.

The brief study, ordered in May by the New Jersey State Legislature, doesn't specifically mention the September 2013 traffic snarl at the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The traffic crisis was blamed on some top aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who allegedly closed lanes as political retribution against the Fort Lee mayor.

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But the panel said in a letter to Christie and New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that they had formed the panel "to examine the bi-state organization in light of recent events at the agency. Those events demonstrate that today's Port Authority lacks an effective culture of compliance and accountability, one where employees are empowered and expected to raise their concerns directly to their superiors or, when necessary, to others in positions of authority."

Those "unacceptable failures . . . have cast a shadow over the entire organization," the report said.

Christie has denied involvement in the lane closings.

The study said the Port Authority "leadership structure often encourages the split of the organization into competing regional interests and the creation of fractured lines of authority within the agency." The panel said it will seek to find ways to end the "inherent friction resulting from the agency's bi-state status."

The report said the authority is in the process of hiring an ethics expert, in part to assure that employees are encouraged to report actions they feel are wrong or unethical.

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The authority has an $8.2 billion annual budget and runs airports, bridges, tunnels, rail systems, ferries and seaports. It also has real estate and economic development projects from the Hudson Valley to Atlantic City, New Jersey.