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NYPA suspends all contracts with Navigant after state probe

The New York Power Authority has suspended all contracts with a consulting firm at the center of a state probe detailing excessive spending and questionable expenses at LIPA.

The Moreland Commission, an investigative body empaneled by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, over the weekend said it found instances of exorbitant charges and a "revolving door" between Chicago-based Navigant Consulting Inc. and the Long Island Power Authority. The commission referred its findings to the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District.

"In light of the findings of the Moreland Commission, NYPA put a hold on all work with Navigant until an internal audit of Navigant's contracts with NYPA is completed," NYPA spokesman Michael Saltzman said Tuesday.

Navigant has defended its work, saying it was reviewing the commission's finding and would cooperate with authorities.

NYPA is one of several state agencies that used Navigant's consulting services.

According to state records, the state Financial Services Department had a 2013 contract with Navigant for $49,500, of which it has already spent $34,312.50, to help with grant writing. The work has been completed. Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of Financial Services, also served as co-chair of the Moreland Commission.

In 2009, Navigant prepared a report for the state Insurance Department, commissioned by Financial Services, about a program called Healthy NY. The 182-page report examined a state program to provide health benefits to uninsured state residents. EP&P Consulting, a division of Navigant, conducted a similar study in 2008.

At NYPA, according to an authority news release, Navigant was one of "several New York firms" awarded contracts last year. The reason for the contract isn't listed.

In October 2008, then-NYPA chief executive Richard Kessel announced he had hired Navigant to determine, among other things, whether the authority should examine internal control and audit practices about the use of NYPA facilities and vehicles, and whether it should continue to own an airplane.

In 2011, Navigant worked with another firm to conduct a report of the Port Authority operations, including an audit of its finances and 10-year capital plan. The analysis followed Cuomo's criticism of toll and fare hikes by the agency.

A Port Authority spokeswoman said Tuesday the agency's comptroller has been conducting an ongoing, routine review of bills by Navigant for its $4.5 million contract.

Navigant, many of whose executives have extensive utility expertise, works with private utilities as well, but the costs aren't publicly disclosed. Last year, Navigant prepared an 130-page report for Con Edison reviewing a process for the utility's residential room air conditioner program.

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