ALBANY – The state's spendthrift education bigs could soon get an overdue lesson in government efficiency.
Sen. Craig Johnson (D-L.I.) has called Education Commissioner David Steiner before the Senate Government Efficiency Task Force to explain the agency's extravagant purchasing practices as exposed this week in a series of Post reports.
First, it was revealed that State Education Department bureaucrats sunk torpedoed their bid for millions in federal aid by proposing to spend $200,000 on pricey office furniture.
The newspaper subsequently detailed how the agency was sitting on so much unused furniture that they give it away to employees at annual "auctions."
"This conduct confirms the most cynical opinions about government incompetence," Johnson told Steiner yesterday in a letter obtained by The Post. "It is unconscionable that this state's already weak application was sabotaged over office furniture."
"Children - not chairs - should be your department's first priority and I shouldn't have to tell you that," he continued.
Taskforce Chairman Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) was expected to call Steiner to the panel's next meeting, a Johnson spokesman said. Johnson requested a full accounting of the agency's plans to overhaul how it buys and discards furniture.
Steiner on Wednesday admitted the agency made a "mistake" by including the high-price furniture in its Race to the Top application. He promised a "top-to-bottom" review of the purchasing procedures.