From the Morning Memo:

In September of last year, a dozen prominent upstate developers, the president of SUNY Polytechnic, and a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo were charged in an alleged plot to rig state contracts. Six months later, efforts to reform how contracts are doled out in Albany have fallen flat.

“It really is sort of incredible to me that after the investigations into the U.S. attorney’s office into procurement practices that there hasn’t been at least an interest, any kind of interest, in improving the oversight of the contracting process,” said Blair Horner, the legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Some lawmakers and government reform advocates had wanted to give Comptroller Tom DiNapoli more oversight of contracts for economic development programs in the budget. That didn’t happen. Instead, the budget provided another $500 million for economic development in western New York for an umbrella program that has come under federal scrutiny.

“I don’t think every system that’s put in place is going to catch every instance of wrong doing but you really need to look at this on a systemic approach and try to build in safeguards that will try to prevent not only wrongdoing, but the integrity of contracts going forward,” said Alex Camarda, a senior policy consultant for Reinvent Albany.

The state has spent billions of dollars in economic development aid and critics have charged the money has been distributed to the politically connected.

“Taxpayers should care because it’s taxpayers money,” said David Friedfel, the director of state studies for the Citizens Budget Commission. “That money is going to projects that are supposed to have benefits for the state and if the procurement process isn’t flowing properly it’s not benefitting the state. it’s also a lot of money.”

Meanwhile, the budget approved this month removed a reporting requirement for another economic development effort, START-UP New York which had required businesses receiving tax credits file reports with the Legislature.

Cuomo on Wednesday on Long Island defended the reporting requirements.

“I believe the reporting on the state’s economic development activities is more robust than less robust,” he said.

Cuomo insisted the job programs are working, pointing to employment gains made as governor. Upstate New York, however, has failed to grow jobs as fast as the rest of the country during the past decade.