"Performance, Integrity, Pride – We Work for the People"
In 2015, Governor Cuomo created New York State’s first-ever statewide ethics, risk and compliance initiative with the goal of bringing a private sector risk management model to State agencies and authorities. Headed by the Special Counsel for Public Integrity, the Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance and with support from the Chief Risk Officer, a team of Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance work both collaboratively within agency or authority management teams and collectively addressing statewide concerns. The mission of the Special Counsel program is to identify, reduce and eliminate risks and to promulgate statewide best practices.
All New York State taxpayers and residents and all those who depend on New York State government services have the right to expect that government programs will be administered and managed efficiently and with the highest degree of professionalism. Risk management is an effective tool to manage the State’s assets and control costs by reducing loss resulting from fraud, waste, and abuse, limiting general liability claims and settlements, and lowering insurance rates.
"Government service can be summed up with three simple words: Performance, Integrity and Pride. Are we doing our job well and with integrity? Are we proud to be serving the people? Those are the true measures of public service and that is what our new statewide system for ethics, risk and compliance is here to support.” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Special Counsel for Public Integrity
The Special Counsel for Public Integrity leads the team of Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance in identifying and implementing best practices to mitigate risk, improving systems needing enhanced protections, and developing, adapting, and promulgating innovative state and private-sector solutions.
Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance
The Chief Special Counsel manages the day-to-day functioning of the statewide Special Counsel team, and together with a Deputy is responsible for setting goals and reporting on progress and accomplishments. The Chief Special Counsel reports directly to the Special Counsel for Public Integrity.
Blaise DiBernardo, Deputy Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance
Kevin Getnick, Deputy Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance
Michael Schollar, Deputy Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance
Chief Risk Officer
New York's Chief Risk Officer works to apply modern risk management tools to help state agencies and authorities identify and assess risks most relevant to their activities and to develop internal controls to mitigate them.
The Special Counsel work in key agencies and authorities to develop and promulgate new risk management programs. Reporting to the heads of their respective agencies the Special Counsel review existing systems at their agencies or authorities for managing ethics, risk and compliance and collaborate with management to remediate identified issues and develop potential areas for improvement. The team of Special Counsel strives to apply these improved systems across other state entities by selecting and generating best practices. The current team of Special Counsel is comprised of the following attorneys:
- Shareema Abel, Division of Human Rights, Division of Veterans Affairs, and Board of Elections
- Wileen Chick, Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Environmental Facilities Corporation
- Brian Conley, Office of General Services and Department of Civil Service
- Blaise DiBernardo, Deputy Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance / York State Thruway Authority and New York State Bridge Authority
- Linda Donahue, Homes and Community Renewal
- Kevin Gagan, New York State Police
- Kevin Getnick, Deputy Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance / Office of Children and Family Services and Division of Military and Naval Affairs
- Joseph Giovannetti, Department of Transportation
- Andrea Herasimtschuk, Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Office of Victim Services
- Felisa Hochheiser, Empire State Development and Olympic Regional Development Authority
- Kathleen Hoskins, Office for People With Developmental Disabilities
- Catherine Youssef Kassenoff, Energy Sub-Cabinet
- Matthew Fernandez Konigsberg, Department of State, Gaming Commission and Council on the Arts
- Maria Lisi-Murray, Department of Motor Vehicles
- Carey Merrill, Office of Information Technology Services, and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
- James Miskiewicz, Long Island Power Authority
- Cynthia Monaco, Dormitory Authority of the State of New York
- Eugene Sarfoh, Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs
- Michael Shollar, Deputy Chief Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance / Department of Taxation and Finance
- Markus Sztejnberg, Javits Center and Battery Park City Authority
- Michael Tiffany, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
- Katie Valder, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
Enterprise Risk Management
The Special Counsel team created an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) program to provide state agencies and authorities with a comprehensive and replicable framework to identify, assess and mitigate enterprise risks. Working in teams with agency and authority executives, Special Counsel meet with senior management, counsel and key personnel to gain a full understanding of the vulnerabilities that may impact an agency or authority’s ability to achieve its objectives. By introducing ERM to state agencies, the Special Counsel continue to deliver on the Governor’s promise to bring private sector best practices to state government.
Open FOIL NY
The Special Counsel are leading a comprehensive initiative to enhance online public access to state records. Central to this initiative is the Governor’s launch of Open FOIL NY which provides a convenient and centralized website to submit a FOIL request to more than 50 executive agencies and authorities and access to a growing body of information and resources. This unique open access interface leads the nation in allowing the requester to select up to three state agencies simultaneously in their single request. In the next phase, the Open FOIL NY experience will be expanded to provide an online tracking system. The system will enable users to submit, track, and receive digital records in an Open FOIL NY account. The Open FOIL NY initiative is yet another example of New York’s commitment to transparency. For more information see Open FOIL NY.
Litigation Risk Management
On November 19, 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the Attorney General’s Office announced a partnership to reduce litigation risk at New York State agencies. The Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance continue to work closely with the Attorney General’s Office in this first-in-the-nation endeavor.
The innovative approach of the Special Counsel program in bringing private sector practices in risk management to government was featured in Columbia University’s Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity in its September 2016 “Integrity in Brief.” The full brief can be found at:
- Build Smart NY
- Ethics Training
- Freedom of Information / Open Meetings Law
- Freedom of Information Law - The Chamber
- Health Data NY
- Internal Control Act
- Jobs Express: Job Openings in New York State
- New NY Bridge
- New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics
- New York State Office of the Inspector General
- Open Budget
- Open FOIL NY
- Open NY
- Project Sunlight – Transparency Regarding Appearances Before the State
- Public Officers Law – Gifts, Outside Employment
- Public Officers Law – Financial Disclosure Statements
- Public Officers Law – The Code of Ethics
- Regional Economic Development Councils
- Statewide Learning Management System
The Special Counsel Program is always seeking talented and motivated attorneys who are committed to serving New York State and developing their professional skills. For current openings please see below:
New York State (NYS) is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. NYS Law prohibits discrimination because of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, domestic violence victim status, carrier status, gender identity or prior conviction records, or prior arrests, youthful offender adjudications or sealed records unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification or other exception.