Housing Works agrees that a Finance Committee might be able to make NYCDOHMH and MHRA more accountable to Council and to the HIV/AIDS community, and might be able to prevent future scandals. But that will only happen if the Finance Committee has real power, authority, and democratic responsibility.
It's not enough to hold, as some City officials have suggested, a one-time "facilitated discussion" of the federal funding scandal and then sweep everything under the rug.
Any new Finance Committee should:
conduct a thorough investigation of the previous scandal, with full access to all NYCDOHMH and MHRA records including internal recordkeeping and
reports to federal officials; operate with the assistance of unbiased outside accountants and attorneys (perhaps on a volunteer basis), at least one staffer from the NYC Comptroller's office, and with full public access to all meetings; issue a public report explaining exactly how the current scandal happened, with recommendations on policy and personnel changes necessary to prevent another scandal and ensure sound practices in the future;
obtain direct access to current and future finance and contracting information in real time Â the Committee and the Finance Officer should be
able to contact line staff at NYCDOHMH and MHRA to obtain spending information on a regular basis;
be charged with recommending to the full Planning Council and the Executive Committee budget and contract modifications for future spending if
programs have a timely contract in place and are unable to translate dollars into services as promised.
If these concrete reforms are put in place, the new Finance Committee could start to restore trust in New York City's process for distributing federal AIDS funds. Without them, we fear it could turn into just another mechanism for inept City and agency officials to continue doing such a terrible job administering hundreds of millions of dollars.
For more information about the NYC HIV Planning Council, please call terri smith-caronia
To obtain a list of upcoming Planning Council meetings, call the Mayor's Office of AIDS Policy Coordination at