The Nassau County Legislature has unanimously voted to establish an office of the Inspector General, adding yet another layer of transparency to Nassau County government. The measure, which was the result of reconciliation of versions of the legislation introduced by the Republican majority and Democratic minority caucuses, was adopted at the final meeting of the Legislature’s 11th Term which ended on December 31st.
The Inspector General will have sweeping powers to investigate corruption, waste and fraud in Nassau County government operations. The position will also have the authority to subpoena witnesses during the course of any investigations.
In addition to creating the Inspector General position, the Legislature also passed a law limiting the amount of time a commissioner of a department can serve as an “acting commissioner.” Currently, a commissioner may be appointed by the County Executive with a temporary “acting” title. The use of “acting” title interfered with the oversight obligation of the Legislature.
Under the new law, the County Executive must forward the appointment of a commissioner to the County Legislature within six-months of the appointment for a confirmation vote, absent some extenuating circumstances.
“These initiatives are the latest in a series of measures passed by the Legislature to ensure that Nassau County government is the most transparent and accountable in New York State,” said Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello.
Legislator Steve Rhoads, a co-sponsor of both initiatives, was excited by the progress. “Good government shouldn’t just be a slogan candidates use at campaign time”, said Legislator Rhoads, “it is a duty which every elected official owes to their constituents.” “Independent oversight through an Inspector General together with true legislative oversight through the confirmation of executive appointments brings us closer to that goal”, he concluded.
These measures were added to the list of comprehensive reforms sponsored by Legislator Rhoads and the Republican majority which became law during the Legislature’s 11th Term, including the banning of convicted felons from holding County elected or appointed office; the addition of a Director of Procurement Compliance; the strengthening of the powers of the County’s Board of Ethics and Commissioner of Investigations and an overhaul of the County’s contracting and procurement process to require additional disclosures of lobbyist activities; campaign contributions to elected officials and an expansion of legislative oversight by mandating legislative review to all County contracts with a value in excess of $1,000.
“For as long as the people of the 19th Legislative District allow me to serve, I will strive to make County government more open, more transparent and more accountable to them”, said Legislator Rhoads.