Groups Call for Comptroller Approval of State Contracts Paid for With Lump Sums
Leading government and budget watchdog groups are once again asking Government Hochul to keep her promise to bring a “new era of transparency” to state government, this time by showing the public how billions in state lump sum funds are spent.
The groups say lump sums – opaque pots of funding that are allocated after the budget is passed – pose well documented waste and corruption risks.
The groups also note that the State Comptroller has also issued warnings about lump sum funds, many of which are exempt from Comptroller review – including $8 billion in emergency funds passed as part of this year’s state budget.
The letter asks the Governor to:
- Vastly reduce the use of lump sum funds in the budget. If the state believes lump sum funds must be used for budgetary flexibility, they should be limited in scope with specifically defined uses, subject to Comptroller review, and publicly disclosed after they are itemized in an open data format, including with details about any elected officials involved in their distribution.
- Fully disclose all details of past and future lump sum pots, as promised in the Executive Chamber and Division of the Budget October 2021 Transparency Plans. The Division of the Budget has pledged to“publish all plans approved by the Budget Director that allocate legislative and executive discretionary lump sum appropriations and capital appropriations contained in the Enacted Budget.”
- Support and sign into law A7925-A (Zebrowski) / S6809-A (Reichlin-Melnick) to restore many of the Comptroller’s powers to review state contracts before they are signed. This legislation is strongly supported by watchdogs. The bill codifies a 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between Comptroller DiNapoli and then-Governor Andrew Cuomo which restored the Comptroller’s authority to do a “pre-audit” review of many SUNY, CUNY, and Office of General Services contracts.