New York Fires Auditor Who Found Misuse of Sandy Recovery Funds

New York Fires Auditor Who Found Misuse of Sandy Recovery Funds

No good deed goes unpunished in New York: the state has abruptly cut off a contract with the independent auditor who found that the state had been wasting federal money meant to be spent on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

Thomas Sadowski, the fired consultant, told the Times Union that he was escorted out of the building when he visited the New York Office of Emergency Management shortly after he filed his report on November 17.

The state hired Sadowski for his extensive experience in emergency procurement management with the federal government. The certified public accountant also did similar work for 10 years at the U.S. Department of Interior’s Inspector General’s office. Sadowski also trained the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Fire Service, National Interagency Fire Center, Colorado Wildfire Academy, and other government agencies.

“I didn’t believe I did anything to be escorted off the premises,” Sadowski told the Times Union. “I wasn’t trying to get back at anybody or get anybody in trouble.” But Sadowski said he believed he was fired for finding the waste. “I was relieved of my duties because I identified these problems,” he said.

In his report, Sadowski found that the state was buying equipment it didn’t need but had wanted for other purposes, had bought equipment that cannot be tracked, and even lost some equipment bought.

Sadowski uncovered examples of spending that appeared to take federal money for things that had no direct connection to Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. He also found that credit card purchases weren’t being properly tracked or accounted for.

One specific item Sadowski noted was the $154,000 video communication system that he felt “wasn’t billable to the Hurricane Sandy” relief fund and could not be delivered until long after Sandy recovery efforts are to be finished. “The timing of the delivery didn’t fit,” he said.

He also could not find the location of $1 million in kosher meals bought for Sandy victims and was directly told to stop looking into that expense. Sadowski said that the department had “lost accountability” of the meals.

State officials say that Sadowski exceeded his authority by conducting an audit, but Sadowski felt that part of his procurement job included accounting for and tracking the expenditures.

Sadowski charged the state under $6,000 for his work.

State officials say that Sadowski’s report has been referred to the Office of the Inspector General.

Photo credit: Cpl. Michael S. Lockett/Department of Defense

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