Comptroller John Liu rejected a $20 million contract for teacher recruitment today, calling the proposal wasteful given the city’s current fiscal climate. Yet the main reason for the comptroller’s refusal came down to paperwork.

A spokesman for the comptroller’s office said that the five-year contract with The New Teacher Project was rejected this morning because of problems with the DOE’s submission. In reviewing the contract, officials in the comptroller’s office said that the DOE did not include information on conflicts of interest or what the dates of service would be. The department can choose to resubmit the contract.

The New Teacher Project, or TNTP, is a non-profit that handles the recruitment and training of New York City’s Teaching Fellows. It also studies teacher job markets around the country.

In a statement sent to reporters, Liu — a possible candidate in the next mayoral election — said he objected to the contract’s premise. The city does not need to spend money recruiting new teachers, he said.

“Twenty million dollars to recruit teachers as the DOE insists on laying off thousands of teachers seems curious at best,” Liu said.

Currently, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is threatening to shed over 6,000 teaching positions next year, with more than 4,600 lost through layoffs.

DOE spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz defended the contract with The New Teacher Project.

“Mr. Liu’s hasty and ill-informed decision completely disregards the needs of thousands of special education and English Language Learning students, who deserve the best possible teachers we can bring in to our system,” she said in a statement. “If Mr. Liu had asked the DOE about the contract, he would have known this.”

Similar concerns surfaced last May, when the DOE proposed to spend nearly $5 million on a different teacher recruitment contract with The New Teacher Project. At the time, the mayor was calling for a similar number of teacher layoffs. The Panel for Educational Policy approved that contract.

Department of Education officials did not respond to requests for comment — I’ll update when they do.

NEW YORK, NY – City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following in response to inquiries about his rejection of a $20 million teacher recruitment contract for the Department of Education (DOE):

“Twenty million dollars to recruit teachers as the DOE insists on laying off thousands of teachers seems curious at best,” said Comptroller Liu.

The five-year contract, with the “New Teacher Project,” was submitted in early February. The DOE was seeking the contract to “recruit, select, train and provide job search support to non-traditional candidates to become public school teachers.”

The contract submission comes at a time when agencies are being asked to cut services, including the DOE’s plan to lay off 4,600 teachers.