Good-government organizations on Tuesday praised the restoration of oversight powers for the state comptroller's office which have been seen as a key safeguard against public corruption in New York.
Gov. Kathy Hochul's approval of the legislation was a condification of an agreement previously reached with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to review state contracts for economic development programs.
Ethics watchdogs in New York have attributed the loss of the oversight power as playing a role in subsequent pay-to-play scandals in New York, including a massive corruption case that drew in real estate developers and a close former aide to ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Joe Percoco.
“This is a big win for public accountability. The restoration of the comptroller's contract oversight powers will keep tens of billions of dollars in New York State taxpayer funds from being lost to waste, fraud and abuse," said John Kaehny, the executive director of Reinvent Albany. "That's why this law was supported by dozens of important civic groups and budget experts from the left, right and center. New Yorkers of all stripes win when there is independent oversight.”
The measure approved by Hochul will allow the comptroller to review contracts worth billions dollars prior to their final approval, including agreements for the Office of General Services as well as those involving public higher education.
“My office’s independent contract review is an essential and important deterrent to waste, fraud and abuse in the state’s procurement process. By reviewing contracts before they are awarded, my office protects taxpayers and state agencies by uncovering significant fiscal and integrity issues and helps to ensure a level playing field for vendors," DiNapoli said. "By signing this legislation Gov. Hochul has taken a tremendous step to bring more transparency and more accountability to state government. I applaud her decision."