New York, New Jersey cover all particulars of virus points | Information, sports activities, jobs

ALBANIA – New York and New Jersey, early trouble spots during the COVID-19 pandemic, have so far refused to publish detailed breakdowns of their personal protective and medical equipment spending in the first frenzied months of the virus outbreak.

The administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said the state spent $ 830 million through nearly 400 contracts on protective gear and durable medical equipment from March to November.

An online database maintained by the State Comptroller’s office lists basic information about these deals, including the names of the vendors and the dates and amounts of payments.

But state officials have been denying requests for public records for months that would reveal full details, such as: For example, how many masks, gowns, and ventilators they ordered from each vendor, how many orders were fulfilled, and how much they recovered from failed deals.

Nationwide, The Associated Press coverage found that states spent more than $ 7 billion on personal protective equipment and high-quality medical equipment like ventilators and infrared thermometers from the virus spread through the US through the summer. Much of this spending was made outside of the normal tendering process and had not previously been publicly disclosed.

All states except New York and New Jersey responded to AP’s request for public records with a detailed breakdown of spending and suppliers.

“This is public information in black letters” Bill Hammond, a senior health policy fellow at the Empire Center for Public Policy, said. “There is nothing clearer the public can know than how their money is being spent.”

The AP initially requested details of spring purchases, but Cuomo never provided them. Cuomo’s budget bureau asked AP in July to formally file an application under the New York Open Records Act. Since then, the administration has sent monthly notices to the AP that it will need more time to search and review records. The last estimate was in mid to late January.

Cuomo’s office and the Ministry of Health did not respond to requests for comment to explain the repeated delays.

New Jersey also failed to place orders for personal protective equipment, saying that the request would be fulfilled “Significantly disruptive to the agency’s operation.”

The state has tabled a unilateral document showing it spent $ 164 million on 153 million pieces of equipment, including masks, gloves, goggles, beds, and even morgues.

“With the number of contracts and orders responding to your request, it would be very disruptive for agency operations to collect every single contract or order, identify the specific source of funding, and check it out for editorial needs before production. ” The state health ministry responded to the AP’s request.

The failure to maintain full transparency about COVID-19 purchases leaves unanswered how much money states were spending on needed items that were rapidly skyrocketing, and how much they turned to untested suppliers at a time when the federal government did such a purchase is largely left to the circumstances.

Cameron Macdonald, executive director of the government justice center, said the data could also shed light on issues regarding the state’s pre-pandemic stocks of protective equipment and medical supplies.

“Nobody knows how much of it has expired, how much they caught up in the spring” he said.

By the end of March, several states had suspended the usual safeguards for awarding contracts in fierce competition among states, counties, hospitals and even other countries for ventilators and equipment to protect frontline medical professionals.

Cuomo promised companies that could help make protective gear for New York they would not surrender “Bureaucracy.” He sent workers to China to procure 7,000 ventilators, but warned the state still needed federal help: “We tried everything else.”

Some specific purchases have been publicly confirmed to the media by the Cuomo administration. These include payments of $ 122 million to Dome International in Brooklyn for a hoped-for 5,700 ventilators and $ 69 million to Silicon Valley businessman Yaron Oren Pines.

However, few details of these purchases have been released. Cuomo aides said the state was trying to get back some or all of the payments to companies that did not manufacture promised equipment.

“While the vast majority of goods have been received, there have been some instances where items ordered were not delivered in whole or in part.” said Office of General Services spokeswoman Heather Groll.

So far, around $ 223 million has been reclaimed, she said in a written statement.

She refused to specify which missions were missed and how much money the state wants to get back, and said so “Doesn’t want to jeopardize his negotiating ability by providing details.”

The AP looked for orders that included the vendor’s name and address, the date, a description of the items purchased, the quantity of items purchased, and the price.

New Jersey’s Government Records Council, which oversees the state’s public records law, “Requires that the custodians usually provide instant access to budgets, invoices, coupons and contracts.” (New Jersey refers to orders as coupons.)

“It is deeply troubling that they are denying access to payment vouchers, which are fundamental public records that people can use to monitor how taxpayers’ money is spent.” said CJ Griffin, a New Jersey attorney who specializes in public records law.

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