Investigating Waste in NYC Agencies

One of the principal roles of the Comptroller is oversight of NYC’s agencies to ensure that budgets accurately reflect the functions the agency is meant to fulfill. Every dollar that NYC spends should be scrutinized by the Comptroller to ensure that it is having a positive impact on New Yorkers’ quality of life. Two agencies where this oversight role is of utmost importance are NYCHA and the Department of Education, because of their critical role in serving underprivileged New Yorkers who rely on effective and responsive government.

As Comptroller, Brian is committed to launching audits of these agencies as soon as he assumes office. We can’t wait to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers, and Brian will shine a light on any and all failures and their resulting inequities.

LEAKY ROOFS AND LEAKY BUDGETS

Few people in public service are more familiar with the issues that NYCHA is facing than Brian, as his senate district has more public housing developments than anywhere else in the city. Brian’s campaign for Comptroller is being supported by ten major Manhattan NYCHA leaders because since his election to the senate in 2017, Brian has worked closely with tenant leaders to advocate for residents’ needs in Albany. Year after year, Brian has stood shoulder to shoulder with tenants by demanding an increase in capital funding from the state, accountability around lead found in paint, and faster response time to resident complaints.

Despite the increases Brian has fought for waste prevents much of the funding from improving the lives of tenants. Leaking roofs were replaced at market rate while they were still under warranty, a huge waste of money that could have been spent on much needed capital repairs including constantly broken elevators heat that stops working in the dead of winter. Worse, the city never seems short of cash for consultants while these problems have continued, shelling out $3million in 2019 to KPMG LLP for advice about reorganizing that is nearly identical to advice it paid Boston Consulting $10 million for 7 years ago. The federal monitor, who comes at a yearly price tag of $20 million, is problematic as well, as many believe the oversight the monitor provides should have been provided by the city already. As Comptroller, Brian will provide the required oversight to ensure that funds reach their intended target: the residents of public housing.

SMARTER CHOICES SMARTER SPENDING

NYCHA isn’t the only important agency which lacks appropriate oversight. The Department of Education also provides numerous examples of money wasted on bureaucracy, consultants, and mismanagement that could have gone to students. As Comptroller, Brian will use his oversight powers and responsibilities to closely vet the DOE budget.

Brian’s has experienced resource mismanagement at DOE first hand. In 2017, Brian had the opportunity to appropriate a significant amount of capital funds, even though his conference was in the minority. He worked with a local public school superintendent and decided to spend the money on much-needed technology for elementary students. Each year from 2017 to 2020, he followed up with the Department of Education and the superintendent, trying to figure out where that money was. No one could explain. It was during the pandemic, more than 3 years later, when technology for students was in such high demand that he finally was able to locate these funds within the Department of Education’s confusing and bureaucratic procurement office for the superintendent so she could use them for their intended purpose from three years prior.

In the course of those three years, Brian encountered and helped solve other similar problems. A beloved school in Brian’s district, Wadleigh Secondary, was slated for partial closure after receiving extra taxpayer funding as part of the Renewal Schools program., Brian wanted to know what had happened. He demanded to know how the money was spent and what metrics were used to determine that the school should close. After conversations with parents, teachers, and agency officials, Brian proposed a collaborative innovative solution that saved the school - protecting both taxpayers’ investment and Harlem students’ dreams for their future. Wadleigh is now thriving.

Other schools have not been saved by such collaborative approaches, and it seems that the Department of Education’s approach isn’t to ask teachers, parents and local leaders to help, but rather to spend millions on consultants when they encounter a problem. In this last year alone, the city paid $35.5 million for First Lady McCray’s ThriveNYC mental health school “consultants,” who are not directly serving students, and $2.86 million to consulting firm Accenture for management advice. As Comptroller, Brian will determine whether these consulting contracts have resulted in quantifiable gains for student populations or school programming.

As a senator, Brian has supported tax increases aimed at fully funding foundation aid, but he’s also worked to ensure those funds get to the students who they were intended for when the funds were appropriated. He will do the same as Comptroller.

CONCLUSION

New York City needs a Comptroller who will ensure that every dollar that is spent has a positive impact on New Yorkers’ quality of life. Brian has the experience fighting for those most impacted when agencies fall short, and the skills to fix the problems that need to be addressed.