From the Morning Memo:

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein on Sunday evening introduced a bill that would create a chief procurement officer to oversee state contracting and procurement at SUNY and CUNY entities.

The proposal largely mirrors what Gov. Andrew Cuomo had initially proposed and continues to back in the closing days of the legislative session, as state lawmakers have pushed legislation that would re-empower the state comptroller’s office to review spending related to major economic development projects.

As backed by Klein and Cuomo, the bill would create the procurement officer post, with the person being nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

“The importance of creating a new independent officer tasked with reviewing all state procurement and disbursements, instead of taking advantage of current safeguards, is that this officer will be in the best position to spot patterns of corruption, or have an inkling of what types of contracts or procurements are likely to be abused, since that is the officer’s one and only duty,” the bill’s memorandum in support states.

However, Klein’s bill does have differences from what Cuomo initially proposed, including additional language that would allow oversight of procurements for state affiliated non-profits so there would be oversight of money spent by SUNY and CUNY research foundations.

And the Senate would have the power to confirm the nominee for the post, something the governor’s plan did not initially include.

Additional language would be aimed preventing favoritism in contracting by having the chief procurement officer review and examine policies of state agencies and non-profit entities in order to recommend changes.

The bill comes as lawmakers seek to address transparency and oversight in state economic development spending months after the arrests of prominent development executives, a former close aide to Cuomo and the ex-president of SUNY Polytechnic, accused of bid rigging and fraud.

In the Legislature, Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco is pushing for a vote on a bill that would re-instate Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s power to oversee procurement, which had been removed early in Cuomo’s first term.

DiNapoli, good-government advocates and lawmakers supportive of procurement reform have called for oversight independent of the governor’s office.

CPO LBD-2 by Nick Reisman on Scribd