With her predecessor waiting to see if he will be found guilty of receiving gifts for contracts, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced sweeping reforms of the county’s contract procurement process.
“Simply put, Nassau County’s process for procuring outside contracts is flawed and time and again the public has seen arrests, indictments and trials all rooted in the fact that the contracting system is too easily manipulated,” she said during a news conference Tuesday morning at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola. “It has to stop.”
Curran said that under previous administrations, too many contracts were awarded without approval from higher-ups in county government. She said the reforms would centralize the process, and to that end appointed Director of Procurement Robert Cleary as the chief procurement officer. She added that each department will have its own chief contracting officer who will oversee contracts and will report to Cleary.
In order to better track contracts in the county, a new electronic monitoring system will be expanded to include the tracking of solicitations. Currently, contracts are only monitored after they have been awarded.
A new vendor database will also be compiled.
Curran also announced that independent investigations are looking into two county contractors — HAKS and Dvirka & Bartilucci — that were named in a state indictment regarding work performed in New York City.
“Questions remain about HAKS and D&B but they are still providing important services to Nassau County through existing contracts,” she said of the two engineering firms.
She also said that the county was negotiating an integrity monitoring agreement with another engineering firm, Nelson & Pope. She said that Nassau had a plan for cancellation of any contracts held by contractors under indictment.
She said that these reforms were not specifically inspired by former County Executive Edward Mangano, who is on trial for corruption regarding county contracts.
“Whatever happens in Central Islip, we would be doing this anyway,” she said.
After signing her executive order authorizing the reforms, Curran announced that she would meet with President Donald Trump on Wednesday as part of a roundtable on gang violence.
“It is a unique opportunity to directly seek more federal funds and assistance for law enforcement to combat gangs and gain resources for community groups to keep our youth from joining gangs,” she said.
But she also emphasized compassion for those caught up in gangs, perhaps as a contrast to the White House’s statement Monday in which gang members were referred to as “animals.”
“I am going to pause and emphasize the words ‘our youth,'” she said. “In many cases these children are high-school aged, or even younger, and pressured to join a gang. We need to help our community groups and family members reclaim their children who have been lured by or forced to embrace gang activity.”