Mineola, NY – Nassau County Executive Laura Curran today unveiled a new online application that will allow the more than 400 county employees designated as ‘policymakers’ to submit their annual Statement of Financial Disclosure electronically. Under Nassau County Administrative Code, employees in certain titles or in positions to make or influence policy for the county have been required to submit an annual disclosure form to the Board of Ethics. These submissions are intended to prevent conflicts of interests and abuse of power on the part of county officials; however, because these disclosures have historically been submitted on paper, their efficacy as an anti-corruption tool was hindered.
The new applications—developed through collaboration between the County Executive’s Office and the Board of Ethics—will not only eliminate the byzantine and inefficient paper submission process but will also improve the usefulness of the disclosed information in the contract compliance and ethics review process.
“In the past, disclosure forms were submitted by paper, making it too easy for vital information about ethical conflicts to be slid into a box then hidden away in a basement,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “The digitized process we’re introducing today makes the financial disclosure process more efficient, and makes it easier ensure we’re holding Nassau County employees to the highest ethical standard. My Administration’s anti-corruption agenda will continue to focus on bringing 21st century solutions to age-old problems.”
"Nassau's old county contracting procedures created a recipe for corruption with opportunities for unscrupulous government officials to double-deal and line their pockets," District Attorney Singas said. "In 2015, I proposed steps to streamline and modernize Nassau's contracting and financial disclosure process, and thanks to County Executive Curran's efforts implementing these reforms, employee financial disclosures will finally be available as a potent tool to prevent conflicts of interest and corruption."
In a 2015 report, the Nassau County District Attorney identified the financial disclosure process as a serious deficiency in the county’s anti-corruption efforts. The report stated “the County’s paper-based financial disclosure system does not allow for the efficient, electronic cross-referencing between public officials’ disclosed relationships and potential county contractors.” This new electronic system will allow for interfacing with the existing contract and vendor tracking systems, increasing the visibility of real or potential conflicts of interest. It will also maintain the same level of privacy as the previous paper system.
The digitized disclosure form is part of a multi-levered anti-corruption agenda advanced by County Executive Curran, including the following key initiatives:
- Signing an executive order establishing a zero-tolerance policy for county employees involved with procurement or contracting procedures accepting gifts of any kind from county vendors, no matter how small
- Signing into law an ordinance to remove an anti-competitive fee for vendors seeking to do business with Nassau County. Since the fee removal went into effect on January 1st 2019, the number of vendors registered has risen from 960 on December 31st 2018 to 2,058 as of March 26th, 2018 – a 114% increase.
- Revising County ethics policies to make it clear that all procurement professionals are responsible for not only conducting themselves with the utmost integrity, but also must report any observed act of criminality, waste, fraud, or abuse in any procurement. Developing an online workflow to enable vendors to submit claims online and have them reviewed and approved electronically by the Compliance Department and the Comptroller’s Office. These changes will introduce more efficiency into the claims process, while providing additional oversight and audit trails built into the functionality.
- Collaborating with the Comptroller’s office to develop Nassau County Open Checkbook, a new cloud-based web portal that creates for the first time an easy to-read online checkbook that details more than a billion dollars of annual County outside expenditures.
- Launching a first-of-its-kind partnership with Exiger, a leading risk and compliance firm, to ensure that the County spends every dollar on its contracts wisely. Nassau now has access to the Insight 3PM platform, which streamlines due diligence research on our current and potential vendors. At no cost to taxpayers, Nassau County is the first municipality in the nation to use this artificial intelligence technology to vet its vendors.
- Appointing Nassau County’s very first Chief Procurement Officer & Department Chief Contracting Officers
- Implementing quarterly training for all Department Chief Contracting Officers
The Nassau County Board of Ethics is ready and willing to assist County officers and employees using the new financial disclosure system. Contact information and other helpful resources can be found on the BOE website.