Making Nassau government accountable again

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Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman (Courtesy of Comptroller's Office)

It’s been a busy start to 2018 for Nassau County, and I’m excited to have hit the ground running as your comptroller.

 This past month saw the swearing-in of the first female county executive in Nassau’s history, an ambitious state agenda laid out by Gov. Cuomo with significant impacts for our county, and a near-record winter storm that closed many schools and businesses for two full days. 

I spent my first day as comptroller meeting with the division heads who know the ins and outs of our county finances. Speaking with them, it’s clear there are significant opportunities to implement new policies that will improve the way we get work done. 

So, what is the role of the comptroller? Simply put, the comptroller is the county’s fiscal watchdog overseeing finances, routine audits, payroll, and outside vendor contracts.

But in these challenging times, we need to do more so that your tax dollars are protected. Here’s how I see the role:

The comptroller serves as the public’s fiscal umpire, an impartial voice providing clarity to a system that has been turned upside down with waste and corruption.

I will be an honest messenger telling you about the state of the county’s finances, and I will lead the public’s team of internal auditors to protect your tax dollars.

I’ll oversee an investigative team that is going to follow the money and push for answers and accountability from everyone in government, regardless of their position of power.

And I am committed to expand our ability to improve general performance. We are putting into place a team that will be the county’s in-house management consulting firm, generating data and directing resources to the programs getting results.

We are already getting to work delivering on the promises I made last year: 

  • Modernizing the county’s finances;
  • Auditing smart and aggressive;
  • Reforming the county contracting system;
  • Improving accessibility through a “report it, reform it” initiative.

My team and I have been meeting with officials throughout the county to discuss the facts of the state of the county’s current finances.

We are going to be honest about how your money is being spent, and to that end I have already sent the county legislature our first fact sheet detailing the financial impacts of a payment to be made regarding a legal judgment from a case dating back decades. 

 And since that is your money being spent, I released that fact sheet online for the public to see. We won’t play games with the status of the county budget.

It is all out there in black and white, and I will continue to insist we operate from one set of facts when having these discussions in the future. 

 We’ve opened our ReportItReformIt@nassaucountyny.gov tip line, and I’m asking residents and county employees to submit their tips and help us determine where our investigators should be digging.

 At my direction, our audit team has spent the month conducting risk assessments so we can get to work on smart and targeted audits and investigations that root out instances of waste, fraud, and inefficiencies. 

 My investigative team has already had productive meetings with the District Attorney’s office and partners so that we can work together to fix our broken county contracting system.

We are also in the process of taking the vast amount of information related to those contracts this office produces and putting it out to the public in a format that can be easily understood. 

 Again, it is your money, so you deserve to know how it is being spent.

 We are facing significant challenges along the way.

Nassau County’s team of auditors has been cut in half in recent years. 

Whether that was just a coincidence or a deliberate attempt to make sure the good guys are outgunned, we are taking steps enhance our capability and deliver an honest and accountable government to the residents of Nassau County. 

 There are other big announcements to be made in the not-so-distant future, and there’s plenty for the comptroller’s office to do as the watchdog of county finances and advocate for all residents and taxpayers.

 Let’s get to work!

 

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