TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny, Jr. welcomed Senate approval today of S-15, which would create the independent Office of the State Comptroller.
“I am pleased with the final outcome of the State Comptroller bill,” said Senator Kenny, D-Hudson. “We worked closely with Governor Corzine to create a bill that would enact strong new safeguards against waste and fraud while minimizing the impact of additional bureaucracy on local and county government.”
Under the bill, the Comptroller would be appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate for a six year term. The Office of the Comptroller would be charged with conducting financial audits of government entities, reviewing and assessing the performance and management of government programs, and reviewing public contracts. These powers would extend over all Executive branch State government entities, independent State authorities, and local units of government.
“The State Auditor has been reviewing the financial practices of State agencies and departments for years and has helped us root out inefficiencies. Finally, with the State Comptroller, we’ll be able to do the same thing with local governments and agencies and hopefully see even greater savings,” added Senator Kenny.
The bill states that, for all contracts involving an expenditure of between $2 million and $10 million in public funds, the contracting public entity would be required to notify the Comptroller within 20 business days after the award of the contract. For all contracts above $10 million, the contracting public entity would need to notify the State Comptroller at the time that it began to develop the parameters of a request for proposed bids as well as at least 15 business days prior to release of its request for bid proposals to the public. The Comptroller would have 15 business days to review the procurement process to ensure that it was being done pursuant to applicable public contracting laws, rules, and regulations. If the Comptroller does not find fault with the process within that time, the contract is approved.
The Comptroller would report directly to the Governor and could only be removed by the Governor for cause upon notice and opportunity for a hearing. The Comptroller would be eligible to serve up to two successive terms, including an unexpired term. The Comptroller would be ineligible to be a political candidate or hold elective public office for 2 years immediately following termination of that person’s term as Comptroller. In addition, neither the Comptroller or any professional staff member of the Office of Comptroller could be a candidate for or hold elective office, hold a position within any political party or club, or allow their name to be used in any campaign materials while they are in the Office of Comptroller.
“We want to make sure that politics doesn’t interfere with the mission of the State Comptroller. This is a job for someone committed to rooting out waste, not for someone looking to make a name for themselves,” added Senator Kenny.
The bill passed by a vote of 22-17. It now goes to the Assembly for the concurrence before going to the Governor for his signature.