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From the Desk of Assemblyman David G. McDonough

Albany’s Latest Ignorance and Mismanagement Hits Taxpayers Hardest

New York State’s buying power is equivalent to a Fortune 100 company. That’s according to Howard Glaser, the director of state operations who has been charged by Governor Cuomo with eliminating gross inefficiencies in our state government. His recent audit included findings showing Albany owning more than a million square feet of office space that sits vacant, nearly 2,000 vendors providing expensive duplicate office supplies and services, and over 400 toll-free numbers that have not been called in months, all at taxpayer expense. Our tax dollars should not go to fund agencies that are so bloated they cannot keep records of what they own or the products they purchase.

As the former president of the Nassau County Council Chambers of Commerce, I know what it takes to effectively manage large operations. Multi-billion dollar companies like Apple and General Electric are able to efficiently do the same. But this cannot be said of Albany, where government mismanagement not only costs taxpayers in dollars but also missed opportunities.

For example, the $3 billion Albany spent on its chief procurer, the Office of General Services (OGS), would have closed nearly one-third of the state’s budget deficit this year. While Long Islanders have been forced to tighten their belts recently, and at times struggle to cover monthly mortgage payments, Albany continues to pay 1,719 companies 1,719 different prices for the same pens, folders, and paper clips.

In a state that spends more than 47 other states and has the highest combined taxes in the nation, New Yorkers deserve to know how much of their money is wasted on a bloated and dysfunctional state government. It’s not just pens, paper, and overlapping IT projects that drive up our taxes to feed Albany’s spending addiction. Albany is now so big and so mismanaged that it doesn’t even know how much office space it owns.

Every year, taxpayers are paying to lease, heat, and maintain real estate holdings in New York City the size of the Chrysler Building – despite the presence of a single office worker. Even Albany’s Corning Tower – the largest building between New York City and Cleveland – is one-third empty.

We must reduce and restructure the size of government in order to stop the state spending spree and move Albany out of the red. I’m calling for the executive branch to initiate an immediate external audit for OGS and all procurement-related contracts, including a full inventory of real estate owned or leased by New York.

I support freezing all leases and rental agreements until the Savings and Government Efficiency commission (SAGE) can deliver its final report to Governor Cuomo on June 1, 2012, and reduce state agency office space to reflect current staffing levels.

If Albany can centralize and streamline contracting, taxpayers are bound to see savings almost immediately. I support the consolidation of all goods, services and technology purchasing under one statewide director as well as the elimination of all agency-level procurement directors and deputies.

My initiatives will reverse years of missed opportunities to save taxpayer dollars. I’m eager to join Governor Cuomo and other lawmakers in pushing for reform that will finally put an end to fiscal mismanagement and reorganize the way our state does business in order to serve the Empire State.