Nonprofits and county government are strong partners in ensuring that everyone in Westchester has the opportunity to reach their potential. However, persistent, lengthy delays in the execution and payment of county government contracts, which frequently last 9 months or longer, undermine the operations of nonprofits in both the short and long term. It creates serious cash flow problems for nonprofits organizations that typically operate with little to no margin, and also result in the loss of valuable staff who may seek more stable positions elsewhere.
For many years, NPW has called on Westchester County to revise its contracting process. Creating an electronic contracting system did not solve the delays, and in many cases, created duplicate work when nonprofits were required to complete both online and paper contracts and vouchers.
• Each nonprofit that is included in the approved county budget should be sent a letter no later than 30 days before the start of the contract (by December 31 for January 1 start date contracts) advising them of the amount, department and contact assigned to this contract, and next steps to begin the contract execution process.
• All contracts should be executed within 45 days of the contract start date.
• Payment on all contracts should be made within 30 days of receipt of acceptable invoice and documentation.
• One county staff member should be designated to proactively track, monitor and expedite all nonprofit contracts to ensure these timelines are met.
• Standardize and streamline vouchering process to reduce extensive backup documentation requirements for each payment request, instead relying on annual program audits.
These steps will help nonprofits to be even better partners with county government, and in many cases, could result in cost savings for the county.