Wagner to Introduce Legislation Requiring Greater Scrutiny to Protect Students & Taxpayer Dollars

Legislation Comes on the Heels of Politically-Connected Contract Awarded by Bergen Community College

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner on Thursday announced that she is introducing legislation that would require public colleges to seek qualifications before hiring outside consultants, a move that stems from reports that Bergen Community College awarded a $90,000 public relations contract to the firm of a politically-connected campaign manager who did not submit the lowest bid for the project.

“With the cost of college continuing to sky rocket our schools should be doing more to keep their bottom lines in check,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This is the last thing that I’d expect from the leadership at Bergen Community College after the recent history with spending money frivolously. We need to make sure that all government business is conducted above board and with the taxpayers’ best interest in mind.”

Wagner, who serves on the Assembly Higher Education Committee, said the legislation, which is being drafted, would close the loophole that allows colleges to hire public relations consultants without seeking qualifications and would also apply to the hiring of any other outside consultants whose qualifications are not required to be submitted.

“In a time of fiscal challenges, educational dollars are scarce and it is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to see that all expenses are necessary and are directed to the benefit of the students. In light of this, I find it hard to believe that Bergen Community’s Board of Trustees would approve the hiring of a public relations firm for $90,000.

“With tuition and fees continually rising, superfluous expenses such as this only compound the problem. When hiring County Executive Kathleen Donovan’s closest political adviser you would think they would want to remove the appearance of cronyism and impropriety. The decision to hire this, or any firm, as public relations consultants still boggles my mind. ,” added Wagner.

Wagner intends to introduce the legislation the next time the Assembly is in session.