New Vendor Code of Ethics Raises Integrity Standards, Modernized Portal Will Eliminated Boxes of Paperwork and Improve Oversight Capabilities
Curran: “It’s Time We Raise the Bar for Integrity in Nassau County”
MINEOLA – As part of ongoing efforts by her Administration to fight for transparency and integrity in County government, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was today joined by Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman to announce a first-of-its kind Code of Ethics for vendors doing business with Nassau County. The County Executive and Comptroller also introduced a new vendor claims process that will enable vendors to submit claims online and have them reviewed and approved electronically by county Departments and the Comptroller’s Office. These changes will make doing business with Nassau more transparent and business-friendly than ever. It will also introduce more efficiency into the claims process, while providing additional oversight and audit trails built into the functionality.
On Thursday, Nassau County will host a Vendor Day Event to introduce the new code of ethics, vendor portal, and claims application process to current vendors.
“We’re raising the bar for integrity in Nassau County,” said County Executive Curran. “For decades, countless county officials and vendors looked the other way – turning a blind eye to corruption that bankrupted our county. We’re turning the page on the old culture of corruption by introducing rigorous ethics rules and implementing a digitized vendor platform with real oversight and audit trails. We’re making Nassau more business friendly than ever – but we’re also making sure our taxpayers aren’t taken for a ride.”
“Now that we are making the process modern and transparent and eliminating burdensome boxes of paperwork and bureaucratic registration fees, we are seeing the improvements—more nonprofits, MWBEs, and SDVOBs are coming to the table,” said Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman. “We are speeding up the process of getting these businesses and nonprofits paid properly. This year to date we have already processed 23 percent more claims compared to last year,” Schnirman said. “Things like the vendor portal, new electronic bill paying systems, and Open Checkbook allow us to follow where contracts and claims are going and see data from every step along the way. It allows us to follow the money, it’s what we call an audit trail.”
“I am proud to be part of the critical discussions surrounding Vendor Day as we tackle important issues and changes happening around Nassau County,” said Marc Herbst, Executive Director of Long Island Contractors' Association (LICA). “I look forward to continuing to help solve the greatest issues on Long Island for our vendors such as claims applications, the vendor portal, and the vendor code of ethics. I also want to thank the Office of the Nassau County Executive for extending the invitation to participate.”
“We are pleased that Nassau County has listened to the concerns of the Construction Industry, and solicited our input, towards the further development of their Vendor Portal,” said Joseph K. Posillico, President/CEO and Partner of Long Island Contractor’s Association (LICA). “This should provide better transparency in tracking payments to vendors and contractors, and result in more timely payments, helping us manage cash flow and make the County a more attractive client to contractors and vendors and improving the pricing they receive.”
The Nassau County vendor portal offers online services for vendor registration, solicitation, and vendor disclosure submissions; while the Vendor Code of Ethics ensures that all transactions between the County and its vendors are conducted in a manner of utmost integrity. These new processes and policies are designed to increase the efficiency, transparency, and integrity of Nassau’s procurement activities.
Vendor Code of Ethics
Nassau County is introducing a new Vendor Code of Ethics to clarify the expectations of vendors with respect to maintaining ethics and integrity in the conduct of County procurements and contract administration. The Code of Ethics addresses several potential sources of conflict including:
- Gifts or Contingent Fees
- Employment Negotiation Restrictions During and After Procurements
- Conflicts of Interest
- Appearance by Former Nassau County Employees
The Code applies to all County vendors including subcontractors and suppliers and will be incorporated by reference into all County contracts. Prime vendors will be required to certify that they have read and accept the terms of the Code, and that furthermore they have distributed it to all applicable subcontractors and suppliers and obtained the certifications of those entities.
The Vendor Portal on the County’s website (www.nassaucountyny.gov) is being developed as the primary vendor link for conducting business with Nassau. Registering as a vendor provides the following benefits for vendors:
- Allows vendors to select commodities and services for which they would like to receive notice of County solicitations
- Provides a secure environment for submitting and updating required disclosures and other information
- Allows vendors to accept and manage affiliations with principal owners and executives with respect to County contracting
- Establishes online account information that soon will be essential for submitting and tracking vendor claims
- Gives eligible vendors the opportunity to be included in invitations to trainings, events, and outreach offered by the Office of Minority Affairs and other County agencies
The Vendor Portal includes functionality for New Vendor and Principal Account Registration, Viewing Open Solicitations, Vendor Integrity Submissions and Vendor Maintenance, Public Entity Services, and FAQ. Future functions will include Vendor Claims Submission and Tracking, Licensing, and Contract Administration.
New Claims Application
The next functionality to be introduced in the Vendor Portal will be a Vendor Claims application. Built on the same platform as other Vendor Portal applications, the Vendor Claims application will leverage existing vendor and contract data to streamline and improve the claims process. Using the new Vendor Claims application, vendors will be able to enter and submit claims and supporting documentation, monitor the progress of individual claims, make package revisions online, and generate and download vendor claims reports.
As with other Vendor Portal applications, the Vendor Claims application will incorporate quality control elements to reduce errors and improve efficiency, ensure that submissions are not lost or misplaced, provide transparency, and enable vendors and the County to manage claims submissions more systematically.
The new Vendor Code of Ethics and modernized Vendor Portal are part of a multi-faceted 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 by 200%
- 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.
- 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.
- Implemented digitized financial disclosure for policymakers, bolstering oversight of conflicts of interest and abuse of power for County officials.
- Appointing Nassau County’s very first Chief Procurement Officer & Department Chief Contracting Officers
- Implementing quarterly training for all Department Chief Contracting Officers