ALBANY, NY - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is fond of using the phrase the "best and brightest" when it comes to his vision for the state, the policies he believes will move it forward, and those he believes can help execute them.
However, according to an article in the New York Daily News, his drive to hire the "best and brightest", could cost tens of millions of dollars, under a contract quietly agreed to last spring with a headhunting firm and aimed at attracting top recruits to important state government positions.
"That's a little tabloid hype I think at work there," the Governor laughed, when speaking on WCNY Radio's The Capitol Pressroom on Tuesday.
A review of the contract with DatRose, indicates it is being executed through the Office of General Services, for an amount ofup to nearly $21 million. Nearly $166,000 has been spent since contract went into effect just over five months ago, and the contract, which runs through May of 2018, is listed as being for "talent acquisition services".
"It's hard to get talent to come into state government, especially at the salaries we offer," said Cuomo, who downplayed the notion that the state would ever expend the maximum contract amount.
"Theoretically...but only if you recruited hundreds and hundreds of people to come to state government," he said.
Cuomo did not say who hasbeen hired thus far, or for what jobs, other than to indicate they'd be important ones.
A Cuomo spokesperson later described the potential employees the state is using the recruiting firm to find, as high-ranking personnel, such as those who might assist the Governor in policy making decisions.
Our calls for comment to the Office of General Services and DatRose were not returned.
Based near Rochester, DatRose describes itselfas a Business Solutions Company providing a myriad of services including staff recruiting.
According to the New York Daily News, DatRose will get 20% of the first-year salary of anyone they refer who is actually hired by the state.
State employee unions are not happy with this news, especially on the heels of signing a three year contract with the Cuomo administration, with no wage increases.
"They say one thing but when it comes to their own interests, money is no object," said Stephen Madarasz, a spokesperson for the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA). Madarasz also disputes Cuomo's contention that he is reforming and professionalizing what had been a disjointed and politicized appointments process.
"This will allow him to have this placement firm put people in positions that will serve exclusively at the pleasure of the governor...who will answer only to him and do his bidding. And he will do whatever it takes at taxpayer expense to do that," Madarasz said.
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher. Follow Dave on Twitter:@DaveMcKinley2