CITY HALL — Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis called on the Department of Investigation to probe the city’s education contracts after recent audits by the comptroller.
The presumptive Republican nominee against Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted the “bureaucratic nightmare” at the Department of Education, or DOE, and said she would order an examination of every one of the agency’s contracts if elected.
“This mayor has spent the taxpayers’ money like a Saudi prince, and there’s little accountability as you can see,” Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn) said on the steps of City Hall Tuesday.
The DOE has 2,616 expense contracts worth some $17.8 billion the current fiscal year, according to the comptroller’s online database tracking city spending. The agency’s budget is roughly $24.31 billion for fiscal year 2018, which began July 1. Less than half comes from city funds, while the rest is largely state and federal grants.
Including pension and debt service, the DOE budget is $30.8 million, an agency spokesman said. Fifty-seven percent of that is city funds.
Malliotakis said she would examine “contracts for items, contracts for services, contracts for consultants — because this is outrageous.”
CITES RECENT AUDITS
The assemblywoman pointed to two recent audits from Comptroller Scott Stringer as evidence of mismanagement of the city’s education contracts.
The DOE spent thousands on a teacher and principal “coaching” contract without evidence the services were provided, according to one audit.
Another found the DOE “spent hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade internet connectivity in schools, but the service still doesn’t meet educators’ needs.”
“What I’m reading in here is reminiscent of Tammany Hall and an investigation needs to take place,” Malliotakis said, comparing the audits to the city’s notoriously corrupt Democratic machine.
DOE said the “coaching” audit ignored that the majority of services with the contractor ended in June and that the agency monitored and maintained the services daily. The agency said the second audit ignored that central oversight over technology projects increased six years ago.
“Our finances are transparent, and we have robust financial processes in place that serve students, schools, and taxpayers alike,” DOE spokesman Will Mantell said. “Extensive and detailed information on allocations, contracts, and expenditures is publicly available on the DOE’s website.”
The Department of Investigation declined to comment.
A spokesman for Stringer, a Democrat, hit Malliotakis for citing the audits.
“Our audits shouldn’t be used as political footballs,” Stringer spokesman Tyrone Stevens said. “We do this work for our kids — and it shouldn’t be cheapened and exploited by adults.”
This article was updated to include information and comment from the Department of Education.