Inspector General report accuses former SDA employee of blatant conflicts of interest

A former Schools Development Authority (SDA) employee negotiated a change order with a contractor before leaving the authority to take a job with the same firm, then lobbied the authority to pay the firm $642,990 for the same change order, according to a report released by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) today. 

“Former State employees are expressly prohibited from representing, appearing for, or
negotiating on behalf of their new employer, on any matter in which he or she was directly involved while employed by the State. In fact, there is a life-long ban on such conduct,” said Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper in a written statement.

The employee and firm were not named in the public version of Cooper’s report.

According to the report, the employee sought and obtained employment with the firm in the midst of negotiating the change order, leaving the SDA in the dark about the new arrangement.  Instead, the employee   “misled SDA management into believing that he was going to work for another public agency,” namely the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The SDA did not find out that the former employee had taken a job with the contractor until he called the authority to lobby on the company’s behalf, insisting that – despite his own previous paperwork that indicated otherwise – the SDA had agreed to pay the contractor the sum in a previous meeting.  According to the report, he told authority employees in a phone conversation that the contractor “was questioning the honesty of the Senior Project Officer because the SDA was not living up to the agreed upon settlement.”

Personnel files the OIG requested from the firm indicate that the employee sent a resume to the contractor and a letter expressing interest of employment, and was offered a job on January 5, 2007.  On January 19 of the same year, the employee left the SDA and three days later began work with the firm as a senior program manager at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.  Inspector General report accuses former SDA employee of blatant conflicts of interest