Comptroller to Mayor: Restore Checks & Balances to the Procurement Process

Comptroller to Mayor: Restore Checks & Balances to the Procurement Process

Photo Courtesy of Comptroller Stringer’s Office

“With billions of dollars at stake amid an economic crisis that has hit vulnerable New Yorkers the hardest, every penny counts,” Comptroller Stringer (c.) said.

By Forum Staff

City Comptroller Scott Stringer recently sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling on the City to restore checks and balances to the emergency procurement process by rescinding Emergency Executive Order (E.E.O.) 101, Section 2.

According to Stringer, the executive order suspended laws and regulations related to procurement in New York City—including the comptroller’s office’s charter-mandated role in approving and registering contracts related to the COVID-19 pandemic—since March 17, when the City needed to quickly purchase ventilators and personal protective equipment at the height of the crisis.

Citing the City’s decreasing demand for COVID-related emergency contracts as New York City enters Phase 4 of reopening, its failure to comply with the terms of the order, and other issues arising from the suspension of procurement oversight, Stringer called on the City to reinstate standard procurement laws and regulations.

“Under normal circumstances, Chapter 13 of the New York City Charter allows the City to enter into emergency contracts in cases of unforeseen danger to life, safety, property or a necessary service with the prior approval of my office. My office’s legally mandated role in approving and registering emergency contracts was suspended by E.E.O. 101, Section 2 ‘to the extent necessary for the City to procure necessary goods, services and construction in response to the emergency,’” Stringer wrote. “As New York City emerges from the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of COVID-related emergency contracts has steadily decreased. Yet the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services continues to register both emergency and non-emergency contracts, defying the intention of the E.E.O. and bypassing the safeguard of Comptroller registration established in the City Charter. As of Aug. 20, the City had already paid out $1,526,391,92 on the emergency contracts registered under the E.E.O. Moreover, it is not readily apparent that the terms of the suspension of Chapter 13 under the E.E.O. have been adhered to since the required documentation for these contracts has not been routinely submitted to my office.”

Stringer also told de Blasio that he’s concerned “that the City may be circumventing the Charter-mandated role of my office. The Charter places the responsibility on the Comptroller to review emergency contract submissions and to provide oversight over contract procurement, vendor integrity, agency accountability and registration generally.

“It has been reported that a number of COVID-19 related contracts worth tens of millions of dollars have been canceled or not fulfilled. These same reports also indicate that many of these contracts were with vendors that lack the necessary capacity or relevant experience, or even have criminal backgrounds. Given these facts, it is imperative that my office resume its Charter-mandated role of safeguarding taxpayer funds.”

Stringer said last Wednesday, “With billions of dollars at stake amid an economic crisis that has hit vulnerable New Yorkers the hardest, every penny counts. We need to restore checks and balances, scrutinize and ask tough questions, and provide the transparency and accountability New Yorkers deserve from their government.”


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