Last week was another milestone in my administration’s mission to root out corruption and promote transparency in county government.
I took office promising to restore trust in a county plagued by a culture of corruption, largely due to lack of transparency in our contracting process. Now, Nassau County is bringing 21st century solutions to age-old problems.
In my first month in office, I signed an executive order establishing a zero-tolerance policy for county employees involved in procurement or contracting, emphasizing they cannot accept gifts from vendors. Recently, I signed an ordinance removing an anti-competitive fee for vendors seeking to do business with Nassau.
In two months, the number of vendors registered rose 80 percent, from 960 to 1,727. We’ve also seen increases in women-,minority-, and veteran-owned businesses registering with the county. Competition means better prices.
We revised county ethics policies stating that procurement professionals are responsible for conducting themselves with integrity and reporting observed acts of criminality, waste, fraud, or abuse.
We worked to develop an online workflow allowing vendors to submit claims online, with electronic approval. These changes increase efficiency.
We collaborated with the comptroller’s office to develop Nassau County Open Checkbook, a new web portal showing an easy-to-read online checkbook detailing more than a billion dollars of annual county expenditures.
Last week, we took another step to help turn Nassau from worst to first when it comes to procurement ethics. We announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Exiger, a leader in risk and compliance solutions, ensuring that the county spends every contract dollar wisely. At no cost to taxpayers, this will give Nassau access to Exiger’s cutting-edge Insight 3PM platform, to streamline research on current and potential vendors.
Nassau is the first municipality in the nation to use this third-party monitoring technology to vet vendors. This technology has been widely used in the private sector to ensure compliance and make operations more efficient.
Before I was elected, research on Nassau’s vendors was limited to manual searches of open-source records — basically a Google search.
Now we will leverage artificial intelligence to search for publicly accessible information that could pose problems for county, including potential ethical conflicts or undisclosed investigations of vendors.
The platform will generate customized reports based on our specific needs and will give my compliance team access to information from global databases including Bloomberg, LexisNexis, and World Compliance.
We’re only getting started. My compliance team is moving full-steam ahead on my anti-corruption agenda, entailing additional reforms to bring more transparency into how we spend taxpayer money.
Laura Curran is the Nassau County executive