Albany, NY — Today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that she is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for a review of the state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill Hammond, Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, issued the following statement in response.

“Governor Hochul has taken the first concrete step toward commissioning an outside review of the state’s pandemic response – which is welcome if belated progress on a crucial project.

“As she said in her announcement, the state needs ‘to identify what worked, and what did not work and why’ in order to provide a ‘guide for future leaders’ facing deadly pandemics.

“Instead of appointing a commission – as I and others have recommended – she is looking to hire a consulting firm or research organization that would produce the report under contract.

“This likely means that the researchers will not have subpoena power to obtain records or compel testimony, nor conduct hearings to solicit public input. The researchers would also report to the governor rather than directly to the public – creating a risk that politically sensitive findings and recommendations could be buried or altered.

“It’s not too late for the governor – or the Legislature – to establish an independent pandemic research commission to take charge of this project. Short of that, Governor Hochul should publicly commit to giving investigators full access to the information they need – and free rein to publish their findings without interference.”

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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