Tuesday, December 13, 2016

DiNapoli Presses Procurement Reforms

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Tuesday released a package of proposed changes to how the state oversees procurement and state contracting. 
The proposals come months after the arrests of prominent upstate New York developers, along with Joe Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and ex-SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros on charges of fraud, bribery and bid rigging. 
Dovetailing with the announcements of the proposals was a letter urging Cuomo to back them. 
“It is our shared interest to ensure integrity and taxpayer value in the procurement process,” DiNapoli wrote. “Staff and I are available to you and your staff to answer any questions or provide any additional information needed for your evaluation of this package.”
The proposals also come as state lawmakers are considering returning to Albany in a special session with potential changes to procurement oversight on the bargaining table. Cuomo has proposed his own procurement oversight changes, including the creation of a chief procurement officer that would work out of his office. 
Cuomo, however, has had a contentious relationship with DiNapoli over the years and lawmakers have openly considered making changes to procurement that would potentially restore some powers from the comptroller’s office that had been removed over the years. 
“The alleged contracting and kickback schemes uncovered by federal and state prosecutors show lax oversight over economic development spending,” DiNapoli said. “The state funneled taxpayer money to quasi-government organizations, avoiding scrutiny and sidestepping usual procurement practices. This created an environment ripe for self-dealing and abuse. New York state must take credible steps to reestablish the public’s faith in government and address the broader problems.” 
The changes as backed by DiNapoli would restore oversight in his office for the state and city university contracting as well as centralized contracts for the Office of General Services. 
Non-profit entities would also be subject to existing procurement and transparency laws and public authorities would be governed by the same procurement laws that state agencies must adhere to. 
Contracts worth more than $1 million for the Research Foundation of SUNY would be reviewed by the comptroller.
New ethics requirements and penalties would be in place for violating the procurement process as well. 
It’s unclear how receptive Cuomo may be toward restoring any authority in DiNapoli’s office. However, the comptroller remains popular with state lawmakers, including his former colleagues in the Democratic-led Assembly. Read Post here 

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