ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — During the states Inauguration Ceremony on Sunday, re-elected State Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli announced the passage of a bill that will restore the comptroller’s oversight of certain contracts. The comptroller’s office hasn’t had these oversight powers since 2011 when the Cuomo administration urged the legislature to roll back certain audit powers because the office wasn’t reviewing contracts fast enough.
DiNapoli thanked Governor Hochul during his inauguration ceremony on Sunday. “As the state independent fiscal watchdog I will continue to advance transparency and accountability in the finances and budget practices of our state and local governments. Our independent audits and reports will promote efficient and effective spending of taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Blair Horner, executive director at NYPIRG, a watchdog agency said it’s been an ongoing tussle between the Governor and State Comptroller’s office, but restoring those powers makes sense. “Because under the state constitution there’s a reason why the comptroller is a separately elected official. And that is so that he or she would have the independence to monitor the state’s books and if somebody’s watching the books people behave differently,” he said.
Horner pointed specifically to the Buffalo Billions Project during Cuomo’s administration, a case that has since been appealed, and the Supreme Court is expected to hear the case this year. “The top aides to the Governor basically rigging the contracting process to help campaign donors and that resulted in prison sentences to the governor’s top aides. But we do know with those case – had the comptroller‘s office been monitoring what was going on – it’s possible that the aides to the then Governor Cuomo would have behaved differently,” explained Horner.
The bill came with some changes from Governor Hochul compared to the original draft reading: “I have secured an agreement with the legislature to increase the monetary threshold for each of the entities covered in the legislation and to reduce the amount of time that these contracts will be subject to review thereby ensuring that goods and services are provided on a timely basis.” The details on those contracts and thresholds are still unfolding.