Schnirman announces nepotism audit in 100-day review

Luke Torrance
Nassau Comptroller Jack Schnirman reviews his first 100 days at his office in Mineola. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman commemorated his 100th day in office on Tuesday by announcing a nepotism audit at his office in Mineola.

“During my inauguration, I spoke about three guiding principles: investigation, innovation and independence,” he said. “Today, all three of those principles are coming together as we officially announce the launch of our nepotism and patronage audit.”

The announcement was part of a presentation by Schnirman outlining his first 100 days in office, discussing the challenges that he has faced and how he intends to fix the county’s fiscal problems.

Echoing County Executive Laura Curran, Schnirman referred to Nassau’s economic state as “fragile,” which made the work of the comptroller’s office that much more important. He said his office would not simply approve of what the county was doing as past comptrollers had done.

“That rubber stamp culture is over,” he said.

He said he is trying to tackle two issues: the fiscal emergency in Nassau County and the culture of corruption. The latter was the reason for the nepotism audit.

The audit would examine the hiring process for the county, including the civil service test process. The comptroller’s office will look to find employees supervising family members and then determine how that was allowed to happen.

“We aren’t focusing the audit on calling out a few high-profile names of people who have abused the system, and then moving on,” he said.

Schnirman said this would strike at the heart of Nassau’s corruption issues, noting that staff pay was the county’s biggest expense.

Schnirman said that the audit would be done in phases and would include both union and nonunion employees. He did not give a date for completion, saying only that it would be a multiyear process.

Schnirman said there were other factors contributing to corruption in the county: decentralized operations, lack of transparency and poor data management. He said the county would have to seriously upgrade its technology to better keep track of its assets.

“The county has a $3 billion operating budget. That is way too big to manage in Microsoft Excel,” he said. “There’s no centralized grant management in the county … and the county still does not have a complete list of all the properties it owns.”

The county has tried to address the issue through the implementation of PeopleSoft software. Schnirman referred to this rollout as Nassau’s “bridge to nowhere” and said the county had little to show for the $43 million spent on it already.

Other financial problems Schnirman mentioned were an insufficient amount of money in the rainy day fund and a failure to put money aside in the current budget for potential contractual increases in union employees’ pay.

To address these problems, he said, the comptroller’s office was working to install software that would modernize the county’s finances and make them more available to the public. He mentioned several audits that his office was conducting. And he plugged an email address,, that residents can use to report waste and fraud in county government.

“We have a lot of work to do, so let’s get back to work,” Schnirman said.

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