MAXIMUS PROTECTION

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One of the city’s new welfare-to-work mega-contractors is apparently getting wise to doing business in New York City.

Call it locking the barn door behind the horse.

Last week, city comptroller Alan Hevesi charged that the mayor’s $500 million welfare-to-work contracts create the “appearance of corruption.” One thing that got Hevesi particularly riled up was the chummy relations between city officials and some of the businesses seeking contracts, especially the for-profit company Maximus.

Exhibit A: Maximus subcontractor Opportunity America, whose chief executive Richard Schwartz was previously the mayor’s right hand man on welfare. Schwartz’ involvement, insisted Hevesi, creates a “negative, cloudy, tainted appearance.” (In fact, one of the documents Hevesi handed out at his press conference was a copy of our 1999 profile of Schwartz that the city’s welfare commissioner had faxed to Maximus’ office).

But City Limits has learned that this multi-million dollar company is not the kind of firm that makes the same mistake twice. According to an employment agreement we obtained, Maximus is now taking special steps to make sure its new hires don’t raise any eyebrows.

“…We are writing to confirm that you do not have a…relationship that could be considered a conflict of interest with any official of the Human Resources Administration of the Office of the Mayor involved in the review, negotiation or award of New York’s welfare-to-work contracts,” reads the employment agreement. “If such a relationship should develop or be discovered during the course of interviewing for a position with MAXIMUS in support of welfare-to-work contracts, you will notify MAXIMUS of such relationship immediately.”

Our story on Richard Schwartz’s welfare-to-work empire is at www.citylimits.org/archives/9906welf.htm.