Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a new partnership to reduce litigation risk against New York State agencies. As the State’s chief legal officer, the Attorney General’s Office is well-positioned to advise the Governor’s Office in this endeavor. This effort is the first of its kind in the nation.
The partnership will focus first on the agencies that incur the lion’s share of state litigation including the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and various health and human services agencies. Each Office will contribute staff to a team which will review and improve policies and procedures for administrative hearings, evidence collection and preservation, early claims resolution and diversion programs, and training to reduce the likelihood of litigation. The team will also analyze prior significant and recurring litigation to develop strategies for avoiding them in the future.
“This administration has spent the last five years modernizing state government, making it more efficient and better able to serve the residents of the State of New York,” said Governor Cuomo. “With this new effort, we’re further raising the bar for performance and ensuring that New Yorkers are getting the government that they deserve. I thank Attorney General Schneiderman for his partnership in this important endeavor.”
Attorney General Schneiderman said, “Public officials must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. This initiative will enable agencies to better serve the public while at the same time reducing the expense of litigation. I appreciate the Governor’s partnership on this issue to help ensure the public’s money is used as effectively and judiciously as possible.”
Each year New York State is confronted with tens of thousands of lawsuits in courts across the state, exposing the State to potential damages reaching hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The volume of litigation stems from the sheer size and scope of state agency operations:
- The State operating budget is $94.25 billion for fiscal year 2016 alone.
- New York has 110 agencies and authorities that employ over 224,000 people.
- State agencies had nearly 46,000 active contracts valued at over $198 billion last fiscal year.
- State authorities had over 42,000 active contracts valued at over $92 billion last fiscal year.
- State agencies administer almost $35 billion in federal benefits programs including housing, public assistance and Medicaid annually.
Linda Lacewell, New York’s Chief Risk Officer said, “I am proud that under the Governor’s leadership New York will be the first state in the nation to embark on a comprehensive litigation risk management program, and we look forward to working together with the Attorney General’s Office as the State’s chief legal officer to make this program a success.”
This partnership grows out of the risk management efforts the Governor outlined earlier this year in the State of the State and his appointment of New York’s first Chief Risk Officer. For more about the State’s risk management efforts, visit ny.gov/ethics-risk-compliance.