Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli have finalized an agreement that would return oversight of procurement and contracting to the comptroller’s office, powers that had come under scrutiny following the corruption arrests of a close former aide to the governor, upstate developers and the president of SUNY Polytechnic.
The agreement was laid out in a memorandum of understanding obtained Friday by State of Politics.
The memo will set in motion the restoration of the authority for DiNapoli’s office to review state university system contracts of $250,000 and greater. Review of contracts at the Office of General Services will be set at $85,000 and higher.
The memo also stipulates SUNY officials will work with officials at the Research Foundation for the State University of New York, which includes the economic development entities Fort Schuyler Management Corp. and Fuller Road Management Corp. to approve pre-audit authority for construction-related contracts of $1 million or more.
If SUNY officials fail to act on the agreement, Cuomo will introduce legislation restoring the oversight powers as a codification in law.
Another provision in the agreement provides oversight of DiNApoli’s office as well. The comptroller’s office will deliver contracts of $250,000 or more to the inspector general’s office for review.
The stipulation comes after the 2016 arrest of Navnoor Kang, the director of the common retirement fund, who was accused of receiving $1 million in bribes.
The agreement takes effect in 30 days.
Cuomo had at the beginning of the year announced a handshake agreement with DiNapoli to restore the oversight powers, which lawmakers in 2011 moved to rollback the pre-audit authority of the comptroller in order to streamline the bidding process for contracts.
Pre-audit review of contracts must be completed within 30 days, as stipulated in the memorandum.
But calls for restoring the oversight power was raised after the 2016 arrest of Joe Percoco, a prominent former aide and confidant to the governor, as well as Alain Kaloyeros, the ex-president of SUNY Polytechnic and upstate developers who had participated in the “Buffalo Billion” economic development program, part of a sweeping bribery and fraud case.
Months after the announcement by the governor, the two-way agreement between Cuomo and DiNapoli had yet to be formally acted on, raising concerns with some state lawmakers.
Cuomo last week on NY1 said the deal would be finalized shortly.
“The comptroller is a person of his word. The lawyers haven’t worked out the language yet. They will shortly,” Cuomo said. “But I have no doubt that the comptroller is going to do what he said he was going to do, and I know I am going to do what I said I was going to do.”