Government Watchdog Groups Call Governor's Oversight Plan "Stunningly Inadequate"

Common Cause/NY, NYPIRG, the League of Women Voters, and Citizens Union Call for Expanded Comptroller Powers to Review All State Contracts

NEW YORK, NY (03/01/2017) (readMedia)-- In response to Governor Andrew Cuomo's statement yesterday regarding whether his plan to monitor the state's existing government contracting system offers sufficient and independent oversight of state contracting, government watchdog groups released the following statement:

"The U.S. Attorney's investigation into the economic development program points to cronyism and preferential treatment for donors which directly undermines the Governor's insistence that the existing oversight model is sufficient. When the Governor's closest associates are implicated in rigging economic development contracts worth more than $780 million clearly the state's contracting oversight system has failed.

All New Yorkers lose when some people get to cut to the head of the line because they know the right people. Fortunately, there's a cost efficient, common sense solution: extend the existing powers of the Comptroller to approve all state contracts over 250K. The Governor's plan offers new monitors, but they are accountable to the Governor. That plan is stunningly inadequate to the problems identified in the US Attorney's charges. Independent oversight is needed. Unlike an appointee or state employee, the state Comptroller is publicly elected by the people, and already well resourced to do this work. His powers need to be restored and strengthened"

Common Cause/NY, Citizens Union, the Citizen Budget Commission, the Fiscal Policy Institute, the League of Women Voters, Reinvent Albany, and NYPIRG have previously made this recommendation as part of 5 Clean Contracting Reforms including:

1. Require competitive and transparent contracting for the award of state funds by all state agencies, authorities, and affiliates. Use existing agency procurement guidelines as a uniform minimum standard.

2. Transfer responsibility for awarding all economic development awards to Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), and end awards by state non-profits and SUNY.

3. Empower the comptroller to review and approve all state contracts over $250K.

4. Prohibit state authorities, state corporations and state non-profits from doing business with their board members.

5. Create a 'Database of Deals' that allows the public to see the total value of all forms of subsidies awarded to a business – as six states have done.