TRENTON - To prevent billions of dollars in Sandy rebuilding funds from being misused, Gov. Chris Christie on Friday signed executive order 125 that puts in place oversight measures that would make sure contracts are reviewed by the state Comptroller’s office.
The order will enable the Comptroller to conduct independent reviews of all contracts related to the superstorm.
In addition, accountability officers will be set up in each department, Christie said.
The third component of the order calls for setting up a state website in which all the contracting information and all approved contracts will be publicly accessible.
Guidance will be provided on the process, Christie said.
Comptroller Matthew Boxer added that where necessary towns will be audited to see whether they "messed up."
The oversight announcement is in the wake of a Star-Ledger report that raised questions about the awarding of a debris removal pact to a Florida company.
And an Assembly committee advanced bills Thursday introduced by Speaker Sheila Oliver that also seek to address Sandy oversight issues.
Also on Thursday, Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Vincent Prieto expressed frustration that the state Treasurer declined an invitation to appear and answer questions about Sandy-related oversight. Prieto also talked of possibly using subpoenas to get Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff to appear.
But Christie said during a press conference that his executive order had nothing to do with debris-removal company AshBritt. "This was always our intention to do this," he said.
Senate President Steve Sweeney reacted to Christie's executive order.
"I am glad the governor is adopting some of the recommendations first put forward by the Legislature to ensure taxpayer dollars do not fall victim to waste and abuse," he said in a release. "These are only some of the ways we can ensure that misuse of Sandy funds does not occur, and we wish this announcement had come months ago, but better late than never.
"In the end, this is not about finger pointing. This is about making sure the families and businesses impacted by the storm receive every resource possible. The people of New Jersey deserve no less. In the meantime, we will continue to push forward on implementing legislation establishing the use of integrity monitors and I look forward to working with the administration on that issue."
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