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Nassau County Executive Signs Order Aimed At Fixing How Contracts Are Rewarded

CARLE PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Sweeping changes were signed into law on Tuesday in an effort to restore trust in government on Long Island.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran unveiled a strict new set of contract reforms she said will stop fraud.

In the past, getting work with the county has at times been about who you know or who you've contributed to. That all changed with the signing of Tuesday's executive order.

Curran says the order will give way to the implementation of historic contract reforms.

"That will take aim at ending contract related corruption here in Nassau County," she said.

The new regulations rewrite how contracts are rewarded with the introduction of strict oversight.

"We found a lot of messes when we took over and restoring trust in government is important," said Curran. "These are concrete ways that we can begin to restore that trust."

It was the fulfillment of a campaign promise to rid Nassau County of the cloud of corruption after a parade of politicians were accused of swapping bribes for county contracts.

Former County Executive Ed Mangano is now awaiting a verdict on corruption charges. Attorney Bruce Barket says the trial laid bare a pay-to-play mentality.

"The manner in which the county government has been run for decades and how it spends money and issues contracts and pays vendors was abominable, so it's long overdue to have reform," he said.

There will now be centralized control involving a chief procurement officer who will review every contract, along with a new electronic monitoring system which will track every step of the bidding process, and a review of all contracts approved by former Deputy County Executive Rob Walker who is also under indictment.

The new system aims to limit those who can award contracts.

"To centralize those controls in the hands of contracting experts rather than people who may have other conflicts," Deputy Nassau County Executive for Compliance John Chiara said.

Residents who spoke with CBS2 say they welcome change.

Curran says they've been looking at other municipalities including New York City to measure best practices with the most transparency, but with some reforms they are now leading the way. The county executive also says Nassau is working with law enforcement to review current contracts with companies recently indicted in a New York City bribery case.

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