The Nassau County Open Checkbook website is a much-needed and overdue window into the county’s spending.
The site can be searched in a variety of ways and is part of a trend of increased government transparency through such platforms. It shows all county spending for outside vendors back to 2016. County Comptroller Jack Schnirman says that over time, his department will add data from earlier years, and should soon include internal spending information like payroll, though not all names and salaries of employees will be shown.
The data shown at opencheckbook.nassaucountyny.gov are well-presented, easy to access . . . and fascinating.
For instance, in the last three years, how much has the county spent with Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, a company accused of bribing officials in a huge Town of Oyster Bay corruption case? The answer is about $25.5 million, but only about $6 million of it since the charges were filed.
How much has the county paid Rivkin Radler LLP, the former law firm of ex-County Executive Edward Mangano? About $1.85 million in 2016 and 2017, Mangano’s final years in office, but just $235,000 in 2018.
Everything from road salt ($4.42 million to Atlantic Salt Co. from 2016 to 2018) to power bills ($42.82 million to the Long Island Power Authority in those three years) can be tracked.
With this much data, it’s the public that will do much of the digging. Did the cousin of a power broker get a fat contract? Someone out there knows how to connect the dots. And hopefully, rather than being a conduit to exposing foolish or corrupt spending, the website will be a mechanism that prevents it.