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While controversy swirls at the White House, Chicago teachers go on strike, and Democratic primary contender retired Admiral Joe Sestak walks 105 miles across New Hampshire.

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Government Watchdogs Call for Contracting Reform

The Senate Finance Committee has passed the Comptroller's Clean Contracting Bill. (wadester16/Flickr)
The Senate Finance Committee has passed the Comptroller's Clean Contracting Bill. (wadester16/Flickr)
May 11, 2017

NEW YORK – It's time to clean up the way the state of New York awards contracts, according to leading watchdog groups that gathered in Albany on Wednesday.

State and federal prosecutors say bids for $800 million in state contracts were rigged in the largest scandal of its kind in New York history.

And according to Alex Camarda, a senior policy consultant for Reinvent Albany, a bill now being considered in the state Senate would empower the state comptroller to review and approve all state contracts of more than $250,000.

"The bill would also prohibit third-party entities from doing much of the procurement they're currently doing,” he explains. “So we think that would be impactful in terms of bringing integrity back to the contracting process."

The Senate Finance Committee has approved the Comptroller’s Clean Contracting Bill, and the Assembly is reviewing the measure.

The watchdog groups also are calling on the legislature to create what Camarda calls a "Database of Deals."

"It would indicate for each company that receives economic development benefits what they're receiving in terms of benefits, how much and from what government programs," he points out.

The Citizens Budget Commission reports that the state and localities in New York award contracts totaling about $8 billion a year.

Camarda notes that there are companies that want to do business with the state, but have been made cynical by corruption in the contracting process.

"That can have a chilling effect on companies coming forth and offering services to government at a low price, and government getting the best price for taxpayers,” he stresses.

The watchdog groups also want legislators to reduce the potential for conflicts of interest by exploring limits on campaign contributions from anyone seeking business with the state.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY