DA: Nassau contracting process exposes waste, fraud

Nassau Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas released a scathing new report on the county's contracting process Thursday.

It says the process is antiquated and exposes taxpayers to waste, fraud and corruption.

The county's contracting process doesn't require vendors to disclose subsidiary companies, criminal convictions, political contributions or whether a vendor is barred from government contracts in other jurisdictions, according to the DA report.

The report also says the county has no credible process to verify information provided by prospective vendors.

"It was really shocking that really there is no oversight, that anyone can do business with the county," said Singas. "No one's checking the system to make sure the people who are getting our contracts were properly vetted."

Singas launched the probe in April when federal prosecutors accused then-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos of illegally influencing the awarding of a $12 million contract to a company that employed his son, Adam Skelos.

Singas says her review found the main problem with the contract process is the lack of proper screening of bidders. She says it has opened up the county to doing business with crooks.

"We found some disturbing things. We found people with connections with the mob. We found people with felony convictions. We found people with multiple tax liens. This is information the county should have before the county does business with these individuals," said Singas.

Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams says he's called for similar reforms and hearings but so far there's been no action in the Republican dominated Legislature.

A spokesman for presiding officer Norma Gonsalves declined to comment, saying Gonsalves had not read the report yet.

A spokesman for County Executive Edward Mangano said, "We look forward to reviewing the Acting DA's report delivered today and will discuss her suggestions with the county attorney and comptroller to determine how best to improve the procurement process that was put in place in 2004, and then follow up with the Acting DA."

Singas says her office is reviewing individual contracts. If they find evidence of criminality, they will prosecute, she says.


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