Rep. Ritchie Torres Introduces Contracting Accountability Legislation

Feb 07, 2024
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) introduced the Contracting Accountability and Transparency Act (CAT Act). This groundbreaking legislation aims to enhance transparency and accountability within public housing agencies by mandating comprehensive disclosure of contracts entered into by these agencies.

If enacted, the CAT Act would require the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to mandate public housing agencies to publicly disclose information regarding each contract they enter into, and these agreements must be publicly viewable online. 

By ensuring the availability of this information to the public, the CAT Act seeks to promote transparency, accountability, and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars within the realm of public housing.

This legislation comes as federal prosecutors have charged 70 current and former employees of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) with bribery and extortion in a historic corruption investigation.

This federal indictment has exacerbated a disturbing breach of public trust within NYCHA. The scandal began when federal prosecutors uncovered a vast network of corruption involving NYCHA officials and contractors who were found to have engaged in bribery schemes in exchange for lucrative micro contracts.

“For five years, I have been sounding the alarm about NYCHA’s chronic lack of oversight over no-bid contracting, which can easily become a breeding ground for fraud, corruption, and abuse. One case of bribery or a few cases of bribery can be explained away as outliers. But 70 cases of bribery, affecting one-third of NYCHA properties, points to a systemic failure of management and oversight.  It points to a culture of corruption.” said U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). 

Since his time serving on the New York City Council, Congressman Torres has made it clear that NYCHA owes the people of New York City transparency about the progress it has made toward contract reform in public housing. When the news of the criminal charges came out yesterday, Congressman Torres said: “Back in 2019, I was the first elected official to sound the alarm about NYCHA’s lack of oversight over micro contracts and small contracts. The high risk of corruption was glaringly obvious five years ago,” he said. “I am pleased to see [the U.S. Attorney] prosecuting those who accepted bribes in exchange for steering micro contracts and small contracts to preferred vendors.”

Congressman Torres looks forward to working with his colleagues to advance this vital piece of legislation for the benefit of all Americans.

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