City Agency Delays put Non-Profits at Risk

By New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer

New Yorkers rely on hundreds of non-profits to deliver vital services throughout the five boroughs every day. From providing housing for homeless families to home-delivered meals for our seniors, non-profit organizations are on the front lines, supporting our most vulnerable neighbors.

But our new report found that chronic lateness in the City’s contracting process is jeopardizing human services by causing organizations to work without pay.

We looked at thousands of human service contracts, and found an astounding 90 percent were submitted for registration after the contract start date – half of them by six months or more.

And some agencies, including the Department of Homeless Services and the Department of Education, submitted over 99% of their contracts late.

And because vendors don’t get paid until their contracts are registered, widespread delays in the contracting process force cash-strapped non-profits and service providers to take out loans, miss payroll, and cut services, just to deal with the shortfall in cash.

It’s unacceptable – and here’s how it happens.

Up to half a dozen City agencies must review contracts before they get registered. But City agencies are not held accountable to any time-frames or required to report on their progress – leaving vendors waiting months for payment and information.

In the end, vendors are faced with an impossible catch-22: wait to begin work, which can stall projects and drive up costs, or begin work without a registered contract, which is risky and not fair.
But there are common-sense solutions.​

I’m calling for the City to build a public tracking system for contracts and to establish strict time-frames for each agency with a role in contracts review.

We can do better – and we must, because behind these contracts are people who need food to eat, a roof to sleep under, or someone to care for them. And right now, the snail’s pace of City agencies is putting their care at risk.

Scott Stringer is the 44th New York City Comptroller.

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