Assembly Passes Legislation to Make State Government More Accountable

Contract disclosure bill will better track taxpayer dollars

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) announced passage of legislation she authored to increase government accountability by requiring state agencies to disclose the number of contract workers (A.9421), helping identify the true size and costs of public services. A similar bill was passed unanimously in both the Assembly and Senate last year, but was vetoed by the governor (Veto 114 of 2005).

Annually, state agencies contract for consulting services that involve hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds. However, these contracts are subject to relatively little public disclosure or oversight. This bill requires more detailed reporting of the state’s use of consultants, including tracking the number of individuals contracted by the state, the cost of those contracts and whether competitive bidding was used to award the contract. These criteria would help the public and government determine whether public employees could complete these services more efficiently.

“This legislation sheds a light on how we are spending taxpayer dollars,” Lupardo said. “Better oversight and transparency in how we conduct business would reduce costs. In 2005, the Fiscal Policy Institute found that New York taxpayers could save up to $500 million a year by stopping the practice of hiring certain consultants.”

Since the governor took office that state has awarded over 10,000 separate consultant contracts totaling at least $6 billion between 1995 and 2004, according to the New York State Comptroller’s Office. While the state’s workforce lost more than 20,000 positions during his tenure, the governor has increasingly sought to outsource those jobs previously done by the state’s top professional civil service staff to expensive private contractors.

A study conducted by KPMG of the Department of Transportation determined that using in-house services was less expensive than contracting out for services 85 percent of the time. The same study found that consultants are between 50 percent and 75 percent more expensive than in-house resources.

“I urge the Senate to again pass this legislation and I urge the governor to do the right thing and sign this measure into law,” Lupardo said. “Taxpayers deserve a more open and transparent government.”