A bill in play the final week of the state's legislative session would create a commission with the power to subpoena witnesses to probe New York's decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic as a $4.3 million state-contracted review continues to be delayed.

State comptroller's transactions show the Olson Group Ltd. — the consulting firm hired nearly 18 months ago to complete a 32,000-hour pandemic review — has billed the state less than half of its $4.3 million contract, which is overseen by the state Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services.

The contract expires June 20 — or eight days after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo will testify to the U.S. House Republican-led Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic about his administration's handling of nursing homes during the outbreak.

And a growing number of New York lawmakers want their turn to subpoena witnesses over the state's COVID response and a review that's independent from the Executive Chamber.

"That is something that I think would need to be done to really get to the bottom of everything that really happened," Senate Health Committee chair Gustavo Rivera said.

The Olson Group initially expected to be finished with a public report of its findings by late 2023, but its contract was extended. Company leaders and state officials have refused to answer questions about the reason for the delay. The firm referred all questions about the timeline of the review to state DHSES. The department did not answer questions about the timeline of the report or ongoing delay.

It's unclear who the firm has spoken with for the review. Participation is voluntary.

A former official in Cuomo's administration told Spectrum News 1 they completed a one-hour virtual interview with the Olson Group at the beginning of the year.

They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the report is not yet complete, but said the firm's staff asked intelligent questions they did not feel were politically motivated.

They would not share details of their discussion of the administration's controversial policy that sent COVID-positive nursing home patients back to the adult-care facility to recover. The early pandemic policy has been at the center of questions about the Cuomo administration's counting of COVID nursing home deaths in hospitals and facilities, including state Attorney General Letitia James' office's 2021 report the Health Department had undercounted the virus deaths of nursing home residents by nearly 50%.

Former Health Department Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker told Spectrum News he was unfamiliar with the firm's work and would not answer other questions about the review.

Rivera said a commission with subpoena power is necessary to get clarity about the state's COVID policies and which mistakes to avoid in future pandemics. He has questions about how then-Gov. Cuomo handled the public health outbreak, including decisions of where to distribute the vaccine when it became available.

"I've heard some incredibly concerning stories about some decisions that were made that were mostly political and not based on actual medical data," the Bronx senator said.

"The sad thing is that, to this day, some craven politicians have used the real pain of those who lost loved ones during this pandemic for their own political gain," Gov. Cuomo's spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a statement. "As I said before, the [U.S. Department of Justice] three times, the Manhattan district attorney, the attorney general and even the Assembly looked at this, and there's nothing there."

Rivera and other lawmakers have started to question the Olson Group's ongoing review, and say they do not know anyone who's been interviewed by the firm in nearly a year-and-a-half.

"We've been talking to a lot of advocates, a lot of good-government groups and a lot of them have not been contacted by the [firm],"  Assemblyman Jessica González-Rojas said. "In fact, I don't know anyone who has. We don't know who they're speaking to."

González-Rojas sponsors the bill that would create the commission, which would have appointees by Democratic and Republican legislative leaders.

"Our COVID-19 commission would be totally independent with appointees across the legislative spectrum," she said.

COVID advocacy groups sent a letter to legislative leaders Thursday pressing the Legislature to create the commission.

Vivian Zayas co-founded Voices for Seniors, and says the firm has not contacted any of the group's 4,000-plus members who lost a loved one in a nursing home during the outbreak.

"We're always asking Gov. Hochul to give us a truthful and honest investigation and what she has put forth with my taxpayer dollars is a sham," Zayas said.

Lawmakers are expected to conference the legislation this week. It has never been brought to the floor for a vote in either chamber.

Several lawmakers said they're hopeful the bill will pass in the next few days, but Rivera said the issue of the commission will be revisited if it doesn't get done by week's end.

"This is about the state of New York having clarity about what occurred, what happened, how it happened and having it in black and white for an independent body that has authority to look deep into what occurred and make sure that we can learn from our mistakes, make sure that we learn from our successes and are able to repeat those successes and evade those mistakes," Rivera said.

Several lawmakers and staffers said creating the commission is gaining traction at the end of session that could be part of a large omnibus "Big Ugly" bill, as it's known in Albany. But with many proposals on the table, it's unclear which will survive during negotiations or die before session ends Thursday.