As a legislator who served during the height of corruption in Nassau County and witnessed the indictment of former County Executive Ed Mangano, I know firsthand how important it is to have mechanisms in place to protect taxpayer money from the pitfalls of waste and fraud.
Over the past few years, I have worked closely with my colleagues in the County Legislature’s Democratic minority caucus to strengthen the integrity of Nassau’s procurement system and make the process of awarding contracts as fair and secure as possible. We did so by increasing the rigor of our contract reviews; requiring vendors to submit the names of all principals and any political contributions they have made; and mandating the disclosure of any violations an applicant may have been issued.
Soon afterward, we created the Office of the Inspector General and appointed the county’s first inspector general, Jodi Franzese, with unanimous bipartisan support following an extensive search. After the fights and scandals of the previous years, this was a truly proud moment in my legislative career, and represented real progress in our ongoing efforts to root out corruption in the county.
Operating as an independent official, the inspector general and their team promote transparency and increase the accountability of county operations by reviewing each contract to detect and prevent waste, fraud, and the abuse of taxpayer money in county procurement. Continued support for the office is critical to ensure the integrity of our procurement system — one that encompasses hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
At a time when the county has received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and tens of millions more in settlements from the opioid manufacturers and distributors who flooded our communities with dangerous, addictive prescription drugs, I believe this function is especially vital. And with the Legislature’s vote on May 22, the county is also likely to face an array of substantial contracts in the not-too-distant future related to the redevelopment of the Nassau Hub in Uniondale, the outcome of which will profoundly shape our county for a generation.
Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, of Glen Cove, represents Nassau County’s 11th Legislative District.