Audit finds Nassau’s Office of Human Resources skipped background checks for nearly 50 percent of employees sampled

Brandon Duffy
Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman (Photo courtesy of the Nassau County Comptroller's Office)

An audit by the Nassau County comptroller’s office revealed that the county’s Office of Human Resources did not request background checks on 50% of a sampling of employees hired between 2004 and 2018. 

The audit by Comptroller Jack Schnirman’s office was part of an inquiry into nepotism in county government. Specifically, the audit looked at the Nassau County Board of Ethics, Office of Human Resources and Civil Service Commission.

The audit said the inability of the Office of Human Resources to provide background checks for all 78 employees sampled gives “the appearance of a lack of equity or fairness, and potential nepotism as several select individuals were excluded from the background check process.” 

In 2018, the comptroller’s office began Nassau’s first nepotism audit. Schnirman, who ends his term on Dec. 31, proposed the idea in 2017 when running for the post. 

From 2004 to 2018, the Nassau County executives were U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Edward Mangano, a Republican who in 2019 was convicted of corruption charges.

According to the comptroller’s office, the audit “is about identifying and strengthening the processes, policies, and practices embedded within the County, that prevent favoritism in hiring and to determine the processes, policies, and procedures which fail to prevent nepotism in hiring.”

Other findings for human resources included a lack of policies to ensure Nassau’s Code of Ethics is being enforced, nepotism likely being involved in the hiring of a relative of a former county executive’s friend and over 40 employees moving to Civil Service positions without taking proper steps.  

Recommendations from Schnirman included stronger policies adhering to the Code of Ethics, a detailed background check policy and training on workforce planning and succession changes, the latter being the process of identifying an organization’s human resource requirements and developing plans to ensure that those requirements are satisfied

The county’s Civil Service Commission, also part of the audit, is supposed to ensure a qualified public workforce based on merit. 

Schnirman concluded that the commission’s website lacked important information that promotes transparency, job qualifications need to be changed for recruitment, employment information has not being updated in over 24 years and employees have been granted extended leaves of absence without justification. 

“The Civil Service Commission is our first line of defense in ensuring that our County workforce is merit-based. It’s not merely about who you know, but what you know, and how we can best serve the public,” he said. “As Nassau County legend Theodore Roosevelt understood, a merit-based civil service system is essential for a strong government.”

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