City's new deputy comptroller Williams leaves: Replacement on the spot to help boss, who is also new to the job.

September 30, 1996

IT HAS BEEN 10 months since Joan M. Pratt was sworn in a city comptroller. But a number of novice mistakes have made it seem like only yesterday. That is why it is with some trepidation that the public accepts the news that Shirley A. Williams, deputy comptroller since 1992 and a longtime mainstay of that office, has resigned. Her institutional memory and dedication will be missed.

Ms. Williams kept the comptroller's office going after former Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean was forced to take a leave of absence and then resign in a 1994 corruption scandal. She has moved to the city's law department, where she will oversee the agency's budget and direct the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office. In the latter role, Ms. Williams will work with the comptroller to ensure minority and woman participation in city contracts.

Replacing Ms. Williams is B. Harriette Taylor, who since April 1995 has served as acting director of the city's Legal Aid Bureau. Ms. Pratt, a former financial officer for Legal Aid, says Ms. Taylor was selected from a number of applicants after being interviewed by a search committee. With Ms. Williams still in City Hall, it is hoped that she can continue to be a resource.

Ms. Taylor will run the day-to-day operations of an office that DTC serves a key role in government. It scrutinizes city departments through its audit function and helps handle the city's considerable real estate. The comptroller sits on the Board of Estimates, the panel that approves all city contracts and has broad policy powers. Citizens expect the comptroller to serve as a fiscal watchdog at City Hall.

Given the McLean scandal and the embarrassing early missteps of Ms. Pratt, the comptroller's office itself is under scrutiny. Ms. Taylor can help alleviate public doubts by making sure that her new agency is run efficiently and without a political agenda.

Pub Date: 9/30/96

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