ALBANY -- Calling it the start of a partnership between their oversight agencies to more efficiently identify and potentially prosecute government waste and fraud, New York's comptroller and attorney general have begun a joint audit and investigation of a $224-million project to upgrade Monroe County's emergency communications system.
The comptroller has about 435 auditors and the authority to examine spending of public money by any state official or local government in New York. He sometimes refers criminal cases to county prosecutors or the attorney general after audits are completed.
"We can share resources combining the audit and the investigation, and in terms of timing it will be much more efficient," Dennis Tompkins, spokesman for Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, said yesterday. "It's an unprecedented partnership between the state's fiscal watchdog and the state's top lawyer."
Monroe Security and Safety Systems Local Development Corp. officials told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that the scrutiny is puzzling, but the nonprofit will cooperate with the audit and subpoenas for mostly routine public information.
Auditors will examine the county's relationship with the development agency, and the attorney general will subpoena information from private companies involved in the project, Tompkins said. "We'll share information back and forth as things proceed," he said.
In a statement, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the initiative extends his reach to any wrongdoing involving state or local government spending, including public authorities, the so-called shadow government of entities created by state and local officials to perform specific tasks such as overseeing transit systems and development projects. The attorney general's office has about 625 lawyers.
Schneiderman and DiNapoli last week established a joint task force on public corruption cases and others as needed.