Howard Glaser, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s director of state operations and senior policy adviser, is tasked with making New York’s state operations run more smoothly.
The job description understates how massive a cleanup Glaser took on when he returned to Albany with Cuomo’s administration in 2011, as he faced the prospect of coordinating more than 180,000 state employees in hundreds of different agencies.
“I left New York State government in the 1990s,” Glaser said in an email. “When I returned in 2011 it was like finding the state agencies stuck in a time warp—outdated, inefficient and bloated. When people talked about ‘Albany dysfunction,’ they usually meant the Legislature, but the operations of government were just as bad.”
Glaser, who had served as a senior adviser to Mario Cuomo during his term as governor and held advisory positions at the Department of Housing and Urban Development while Andrew Cuomo was its secretary, is now overseeing a centralization of state operations.
Glaser’s day-to-day activities can involve working with the Port Authority on issues like the 9/11 Museum’s construction and fiscal crises. Glaser has been a point man on the state’s negotiations to build a convention center, and serves as a hub to coordinate conversations among Native American communities, gambling interests and the Capitol’s second floor on casino gaming.
Cuomo also trusts Glaser with ensuring a coordinated response to emergencies. He oversaw the state’s coordinated response to disasters like flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
“Our approach is to aggressively manage performance and results,” Glaser said. “You can’t leave a $100 billion enterprise on autopilot, which is what had been happening in Albany for a over a decade. That’s anathema to us—taxpayers deserve better, and so do the customers of state programs.”