Mineola, NY – Comptroller George Maragos released an audit of the $12.6 million VIP Splash Waterways Recovery Group, Inc. (“VIP Splash”), the controversial contractor for waterway debris removal following Superstorm Sandy. The audit revealed serious concerns regarding the awarding of the contract, and compliance with important contract terms, including payment of Living Wages, proper supporting documentation and employment of Minority and Women Owned Enterprises (“MWBE”). The audit could not provide definitive findings as the auditors were prevented from reviewing important documents due to the lack of cooperation by the Office of Emergency Management (“OEM”) and the ongoing federal and local investigations of VIP Splash. The audit was triggered by concerned constituents’ allegations of potential issues between VIP Splash and its subcontractors and the hauling of non-Superstorm Sandy related debris.
Comptroller Maragos stated “I am disappointed in the lack of transparency by the County Department of Emergency Management that would not allow the auditors to review important documents that should be in the public domain. The same lack of transparency by some subcontractors was equally unacceptable and we recommend that these vendors be barred from any further business relationships with the County. Serious questions remain on how a company formed in 2013 was selected over three other companies with more extensive experience. The auditors did not pursue obtaining the information with subpoenas due to the various ongoing law enforcement investigations.”
VIP Splash utilized the services of 11 subcontractors on the debris removal project, which provided services ranging from sonar scanning, labor, provision of boats and heavy equipment, and transportation of debris. As reported by media sources, the work of VIP Splash and some of their subcontractors has been under scrutiny by various law enforcement agencies, including the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. As a result, certain records were unavailable for review by the auditors since they had been furnished to these other investigating agencies. Further, legal counsel barred officers and members of a key subcontractor, Operation Splash, from communicating with the auditors. In addition,