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October 8, 2008


Chester Made Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Purchases Without Seeking Competitive Bids

Due to a weak procurement policy for the purchase of goods and services, the Town of Chester made hundreds of thousands of dollars in purchases without the benefit of competition, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit, conducted for the period January 2007 to May 2008, also found that the town failed to enter into written contracts for over $226,000 in professional services.

“Public officials have to stretch every tax dollar,” said DiNapoli. “This means having a strong, solid purchasing policy that provides officials with the guidance they need to make educated purchasing decisions on behalf of the taxpayer.”

Auditors reviewed payments made to 31 vendors and found the town did not:

  • centralize purchasing, which would have enabled them to make volume purchases at a discount;
  • solicit competitive bids for purchases totaling $227,639 from six of the vendors;
  • solicit competitive proposals or quotations for any of the eight professional service providers auditors reviewed totaling $285,000; or
  • have written agreements with seven of these professional service providers totaling $226,308.

DiNapoli recommended that town officials:

  • update the town’s procurement policy to ensure it complies with the State’s General Municipal Law. The policy should include detailed and consistent guidance on competitive bidding, aggregate purchases, emergency purchases, and documentation of purchases;
  • establish procedures that require obtaining multiple proposals or quotations when competitive bidding is not required and ensure that goods and services are procured in accordance with the GML and town policy;
  • centralize purchasing to ensure the town solicits bids for purchases of goods and services that take advantage of volume discounts; and
  • enter into written agreements or pass resolutions for all current and future professional services that detail the services provided and compensation for those services.

Town officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations, and indicated they would take corrective action. Click here for a copy of the audit.


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