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May 19, 2010

Maragos: ‘Temporary Employees’ costs Nassau over $2M Since 2007

Comptroller refuses to approve renewal of all temp contracts

 

During the course of reviewing contracts, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos found that since 2007 hundreds of temporary employees were being used by various County Departments at a cost to taxpayers of more than $2.3 million. In one department, temporary employees were allowed to approve voucher payments to the vendor which hired them. In most departments the use of temporary employees was deemed unnecessary as these departments were already at full staff levels. Comptroller Maragos has now refused to approve renewal of all temporary employee contracts, and is asking all departments to do more with less during these difficult financial times. Without this restraint, the use of temporary employees could cost nearly $1 million more this year. The County currently has less than 60 temporary employees and this number will be reduced further as existing contracts expire.

"From day one my office has been conducting a comprehensive review of all County contracts in an ongoing effort to reduce expenses. We discovered the use of hundreds of unnecessary temporary employees, under multiple contracts with a single vendor in five County Departments - Tax Assessment, Assessment Review, Social Services, Health and the Office of County Attorney. In our opinion the use of temporary employees in many cases was not justified given the work load,” stated Comptroller Maragos.

            Review of the relevant contracts by the Comptroller’s office revealed the following concerning facts:

  • Since 2007, the County has spent more than $2,309,000 on hundreds of temporary employees under various contracts in five County Departments.
  • In spite of the fact that the contracts were for clerical temporary employees, at least one County department hired employees to perform work other than clerical services.
  • One department used the temporary employees to approve voucher payments to the vendor which hired them.
  •  Contracts continued to be awarded to one vendor even after an audit discovered violations to the County’s Living Wage Law.
  • All but one of five contracts was executed without the prior approval of the County Legislature.

Most of the temporary employees were hired by Nassau County from the Island Search Group, Inc., which is a vendor qualified by New York State to provide temporary clerical employees to various State and local governments.  This office previously determined  that the Island Search Group, Inc. was not in compliance with the Living Wage Law, as required by the contracts with the Assessment Review Commission, Social Services and Tax Assessment, for periods in 2007 and 2008 and that the temporary employees were underpaid by more that $100,000 during that period. Subsequently a waiver from compliance with the Law was granted on July 3, 2009 by the Compliance Office of the County Executive [Suozzi] to the agency retroactive to January 1, 2009 for the Social Services contract only. However, the waiver did not cover the period audited by the Comptroller’s office. The 2007-2008 finding remains unresolved and outstanding.

"These types of costly and unnecessary contracts will not be approved by the Comptroller’s office. The County departments must understand that taxpayer money cannot be spent needlessly. We will continue to scrutinize every contract for value and clearly defined performance goals,” Comptroller Maragos emphasized.