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Officials Embrace Advice in Port Audit

December 04, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles and port officials on Friday said they will adopt most of the recommendations in a sweeping new audit that faults Harbor Department management practices.

The final version of the five-year management audit, conducted by a private consultant and released Friday, appears largely unchanged from the draft version made public in October. It criticizes the nation's busiest seaport for lacking clear direction, saying it seems to be "living off the fruits" of past successes.

Mayor James K. Hahn, noting the port's size and a strong recent bond rating, said in a statement Friday: "The recommendations provided by these management consultants will help us build on this strong foundation and create an even better port."

Responding to the audit's criticisms of security, port officials promised improvement. For instance, the port will require tenants to provide approved security plans, they said.

The audit also faulted the port for lacking a formal strategic plan. In response, port officials said a plan is expected by mid-2005, and that a new program will evaluate management performance.

Auditors found that individual port commissioners "are too often directly involved" in day-to-day port functions, urging that commissioners "not intervene or perform the actual duties of the department."

Port spokesman Arley Baker said Friday, "This commission makes no apologies for being involved." He said that three of the five commissioners -- Nicholas Tonsich, Camilla Townsend and Thomas Warren -- were appointed because they are from San Pedro, where the port is located.

The audit also criticized the Port Community Advisory Committee, which Hahn created three years ago, for expanding its role at the port in "ways that exceed or modify the mayor's original directives and are contrary to its purpose."

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