Sandra Beattie, acting, budget director of the State of New...

Sandra Beattie, acting, budget director of the State of New York, listens to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's executive state budget at the state Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink) Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

 ALBANY — The state’s former acting budget director "left the administration involuntarily" Monday — the same day Gov. Kathy Hochul asked the inspector general’s office to review a series of contracts awarded to private consultants, an official confirmed Thursday.

Former acting budget director Sandra Beattie was forced out Monday. She held the job since last fall, but previously served as deputy director of the budget division.

The Hochul administration also confirmed that Rajiv Rao, chief technology officer at the Office of Information Technology Services, has taken voluntary leave. Neither Beattie nor Rao have been accused of wrongdoing.

The departures occurred while the administration was examining whether contracts Rao and Beattie worked on had followed procurement guidelines, which was first reported by the Albany Times-Union.

“As she’s said from Day One, Governor Hochul is committed to restoring trust in government. When concerns were raised, we immediately referred them to the inspector general,” said Hazel Crampton-Hays, a Hochul aide, in a statement.

Beattie’s departure comes just days after Hochul announced she hired Robert Megna to take over as budget director. Megna previously served in that role in administrations of Andrew M. Cuomo and David A. Paterson.

The transition also occurred at a critical time in the 2023 legislative session: a state budget agreement between Hochul, the State Senate and Assembly is due April 1.

Questions were raised about contracts awarded by the administration after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a separate source said.

The Times-Union reported one contract specifically under the microscope involved the “Excelsior Pass,” a digital vaccine credential that can be downloaded on smartphones and other devices. The work initially was awarded to IBM, but the newspaper said Beattie intervened and pushed for Deloitte Consulting to take over.

A Deloitte webpage about the Excelsior Pass touts its work with Beattie and Rao to deploy the digital tool. Before working for the state and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Beattie worked briefly for Deloitte. She had been the state's interim budget director since November.

Rao has served as the chief technology officer of the state Office of Information Technology Services since 2015, according to the agency’s website.

 Neither Rao nor Beattie could be reached for comment.

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