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Thomas Sadowski, a 63-year-old licensed certified public accountant since 1983 who retired after 32 years with the federal government, said many pieces of equipment were nearly impossible to track once put into the field, including millions of dollars in light towers, pumps, generators and provisions.
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Sandy Auditor Terminated After
Report Criticizing NY State
An independent consultant who examined New York's spending for Superstorm Sandy found what he believes are questionable transactions and practices, including poor oversight of the use of state credit cards, orders for a fleet of SUVs and the purchase of iPads that did not seem necessary for recovery efforts.

The consultant, who was expelled by the state after issuing a series of recommendations to improve procurement practices, said it appeared from his examination that government officials bought and rented equipment that should have been stockpiled or lined up months or years earlier, and sought to acquire assets that didn't seem necessary for the immediate tasks at hand.

"They're trying to get stuff that would be cool to have, but we don't really need it for this incident -- but maybe we can get the feds to pay for it," said Thomas Sadowski, the consultant.

He said many pieces of equipment were nearly impossible to track once put into the field, including millions of dollars in light towers, pumps, generators and provisions. As a result, the state was unsure what it owned, leased or lost during the immediate response to the late October hurricane, Sadowski said.

Sadowski, a 63-year-old licensed certified public accountant since 1983 who retired after 32 years with the federal government, said he was escorted from the New York Office of Emergency Management shortly after he filed a report on Nov. 17 that was critical of some practices. He said he thought his assignment would last longer.

Sadowski, a Colorado resident, was taken to the Office of Emergency Management's bunker beneath State Police headquarters to help secure supplies and equipment because of his extensive emergency procurement management experience with the federal government. He also worked as an auditor at the US Department of Interior's Inspector General's office for 10 years; he has trained the US Forest Service, Alaska Fire Service, National Interagency Fire Center, Colorado Wildfire Academy and other government entities on incident management.

After being led out of the command center, Sadowski sent his report to the Office of the State Comptroller and to the Inspector General's Office. He also provided the document to the Times Union. He provided an email confirming that the comptroller's office had received his "complaint."

"I didn't believe I did anything to be escorted off the premises," he said in an interview from his home near Denver. "I wasn't trying to get back at anybody or get anybody in trouble." He said he was trying to point out what was wrong with the procurement practices and how they should be improved: "I was relieved of my duties because I identified these problems."

About three weeks after sending letters to the comptroller and Inspector General, he said he received a call from James Horton, the deputy director of the state Office of Counterterrorism, whose boss is Jerry Hauer, the commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, which hired Sadowski for the emergency response tasks.

Sadowski thought it was odd that he was being contacted by a person employed by the agency that was the subject of his complaints to two state watchdogs, but he cooperated with Horton.

Horton told the Times Union that the matter has been referred to the Inspector General for investigation. "The IG referred it to us," he said. "After looking into it, we handed it back to them."

A spokesman for the Inspector General declined to confirm or deny a probe, but Sadowski said the day after the Times Union contacted state officials about his concerns, an IG attorney emailed him to ask for an interview.


Editor's Note: Your tax dollars at work...or maybe not so much at work...

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