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Oyster Bay approves use of nondisclosure agreements with firms

Brian Noone, just before the vote approving his

Brian Noone, just before the vote approving his appointment as inspector general, at an Oyster Bay Town public meeting on Jan. 8. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Oyster Bay’s inspector general can now enter into nondisclosure agreements with private companies under a measure adopted by the town board.

Board members on Tuesday approved the measure, which did not appear on the meeting agenda, that allows the agreements known as NDAs, subject to approval from the town attorney’s office. The resolution was adopted at the request of Brian Noone, who was appointed inspector general in January. He oversees the town’s contracting and procurement process.

Noone wrote in a memo Tuesday that he wanted to meet and negotiate with “certain firms” that conduct due diligence on bidders and vendors.

The firms use "proprietary methods and procedures" and want to protect them "by entering into typical nondisclosure agreements with prospective clients before making any presentation of such services,” Noone wrote.

The resolution did not identify the companies, and Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said after the meeting he was unsure if those names could be released.

“There is information that the vendor has the right to keep private and therefore they’ve asked for this to come before the board to give the permission of the inspector general to gather information to start making decisions on what tools and resources he will need,” Saladino said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Councilman Anthony Macagnone cast the lone vote against the measure, which passed 6-1.

“They want to go with nondisclosure, and we’re not going to know what’s going on?” Macagnone said Thursday. “I understand the IG [inspector general] has to do his job, but his job should also be reporting everything to us.”

Macagnone in January called for Noone to resign for not disclosing past contracts with the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency when he applied for the position. Noone said he had not been asked to list his clients.

Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, said in an email such nondisclosure agreements don’t shield information from being disclosed to the public under the state Freedom of Information Law.

“FOIL trumps NDAs,” Freeman said.

The town of Hempstead does not use nondisclosure agreements with vendors, a town spokesman said. North Hempstead “generally” does not use them, a town spokeswoman said.

Nassau County last month agreed to a pilot program with the Manhattan-based firm Exiger to use artificial intelligence software to do background checks on vendors. That program includes a confidentiality agreement that prevents the county from disclosing information about the company’s materials and services, county spokeswoman Christine Geed said Thursday. A copy of that agreement acknowledges program records may be subject to disclosures under the Freedom of Information law.

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