Nassau posts its contracts online for the first time
For the first time ever, Nassau Comptroller George Maragos has posted all 2013 contracts online, listing the vendor name, the amount and a description of the project -- although the list of more than $700 million in contracts is not yet searchable or sortable.
Maragos said the list posted on the comptroller's public Facebook page will be updated weekly as new contracts are approved and vendor claims are paid.
"I want government to be fully transparent in the spending of taxpayer money," Maragos said. "Placing these contracts online will provide taxpayers with a snapshot of how their money is being spent and hopefully generate feedback from residents where inefficiencies and waste are observed."
E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank, questioned why Maragos is posting the information on Facebook rather than the county website. "A Facebook page is somewhat self-promotional for him," McMahon said. He also noted the list was not searchable or sortable.
"It's a small step in the right direction, but they have to do better," McMahon said. He even offered to post a searchable, sortable list on the Internet if Maragos would provide the data.
Maragos spokesman Jostyn Hernandez declined McMahon's offer. "It's still a work in progress," Hernandez said. "As of right now, this is the best we can do."
Hernandez said the list was posted on Facebook because it gets more hits than the comptroller's county website, which will provide a link to the Facebook page.
Although Suffolk contracts can be searched online by vendor and department, Nassau has never provided a list of county contracts to the public. Even contracts listed on agendas for approval by the Nassau County Legislature do not give the amount of money involved or a description of the planned work.
Michael Florio, spokesman for Nassau's Democratic legislators, said Maragos' compilation "is good information but it should be in a much more user-friendly format."
The contracts can be found at facebook.com/nccomptroller.