Capitol Notes

DiNapoli ready to resume oversight role stripped by Cuomo

“We’re ready. We’re able.”

That was the message State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli delivered Thursday on The Capitol Pressroom, when asked about restoring oversight powers to his office that were stripped by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the pandemic under the guise of expediting the state’s response to the emergency.

The Buffalo News reported this week that state agencies have spent more than $2 billion responding to COVID-19, and none of the funds have gone through the traditional procurement process, which includes a review by the comptroller’s office.

DiNapoli acknowledged the need for the state to respond quickly to the crisis in March and April, but stressed that his office wouldn’t have been an impediment to securing potentially life-saving equipment.

“We take a week or less under normal conditions, and if there’s an emergency …  contract approval can actually be turned around within a day,” he said.

Even though Cuomo maintains that New York has flattened the curve and is through the worst of the initial bout with the virus, he has not signaled any plans to restore the comptroller’s powers. This is not a surprise, based on the governor’s preference for fewer checks on his authority.

“Even in non-emergency times there’s been a thrust over the years from the governor and legislature to limit our usual role as far as oversight,” DiNapoli said.

He added that representatives for the governor have often misrepresented how long it takes for his office to review contracts, saying he gets frustrated by the spread of “misinformation.”

“We can handle it,” DiNapoli said. “It’s not a question of wanting power back. That’s what we’re set up to do.”

The Capitol Pressroom · July 30, 2020: DiNapoli ready to resume spending oversight role stripped by Cuomo
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