Commissioners Bryant, Tarleton will lead investigation

The Port of Seattle Commission passed a motion today creating a special committee charged with investigating the Port’s vulnerability to fraud as well as the contracting policies and procedures specifically called out in the recent performance audit report. Commissioner Bill Bryant will chair the effort; Commissioner Gael Tarleton will also serve on the committee.

The committee, including the citizen representative, will choose an independent fraud investigator. The committee will ask State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s office for recommendations of firms experienced in such investigations. Within 30 days of being selected, the firm must present the full commission with a work plan that outlines the scope of matters to be investigated, a timeline for the work, and an estimated budget. The investigation will focus on the areas of potential fraud highlighted by the performance auditor, and is being conducted in response to his recommendations.

“For the Port to continue demonstrating leadership on trade, transportation and environmental issues we must regain public trust,” said Commissioner Bryant. “This investigation is another step toward regaining that trust, and sends a message to port employees that we do not have to choose between efficiency and openness. From this point forward the Commission expects both.”

Commissioner Tarleton agreed. “CEO Yoshitani has stated many times that we will use the results of this audit to be a better port. We will - but to do so, we must investigate every possible area of risk and use the information we gain to craft policies that protect the public’s interest.”

The committee has authority to hire outside legal counsel or consultants and broaden the scope of the investigation if early results make that necessary. A full report will be issued when the investigation is complete.

“I am grateful to Commissioners Bryant and Tarleton for their willingness to serve on this committee,” said Commission President John Creighton. “The Commission is committed to investigating every risk area identified by the audit report, and any evidence of wrongdoing will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately.”