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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Six Agency and Authority Audits Find Overlapping Work Time, Potential Safety Issues Regarding Consecutive Hours Worked


Six Agency and Authority Audits Find Overlapping Work Time, Potential Safety Issues Regarding Consecutive Hours Worked
Source: Office of the State Comptroller
Click on text highlighted in color  to access the full report

The State Comptroller reports that a review of six state agencies and authorities found a pattern of abuse and poor oversight of employees that hold two or more public jobs, including fraudulently claiming to be working at two places at the same time, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced on Friday, December 20, 2013.

Earnings by all workers with two or more state jobs exceed $500 million annually. If even only a small percentage of these payments are not earned, the cumulative cost to taxpayers could easily be several million dollars annually.

Of 345 employees examined, auditors found 75 employees that regularly violated time and attendance policies, costing taxpayers $413,277 for 4,803 hours not worked. This amount represented almost 4.5 percent of the employees’ salaries. Auditors also found employees falsified timesheets, abused sick leave and misrepresented travel time from one job to another.

The Comptroller said: “Dozens of public employees working for more than one public employer have managed to take advantage of lax oversight and take credit for hours they didn’t work,” DiNapoli said. “Our audits found supervisors were lax and often complicit in allowing employees to game the system. This is costing taxpayers too much and could jeopardize public safety. It has got to stop. While the Executive should address this issue with all state agencies, I commend the agencies we audited for taking swift action, and recognizing that changes are needed.”

DiNapoli’s auditors examined the issue of dual employment after identifying red flags in previous audits.  The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Unified Court System (UCS) and the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) were selected for audit.  

Dual employment is most prevalent at colleges, prisons, health facilities and the courts. The most common secondary positions are as adjuncts, correction officers, and school hourly staff.

In additional findings, DiNapoli’s auditors found 69 employees who claimed to have worked 3,536 hours at two jobs at the same time (overlapping hours). Another 22 employees did not accurately reflect travel time from one job to another, and 16 improperly charged 511 hours of sick leave at one job, even though they were working at a second job.

Specific examples include:

·        An MTA track equipment maintainer who also worked for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) had work schedules that overlapped four hours each week. He told auditors that a supervisor had approved an alternate schedule seven years ago, which allowed him to report earlier to work at 6 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. in order to get to the NYCDEP on-time, even though his timesheets did not reflect this alternate schedule. During a site visit, auditors found that he arrived shortly before 8 a.m. instead of his earlier start time. This employee reported 193.5 overlapping hours at a cost of $8,232 over the course of a year;

·        A UCS employee who also taught at two CUNY schools was teaching classes during the hours that he was supposed to be at UCS. He was paid by UCS for 344 hours that he spent either traveling to or teaching CUNY classes;

·        A psychiatric nurse employed by OMH, who also worked as a public health nurse at P.S. 205 in the Bronx, submitted time records reporting the same end and start time for both jobs. She was paid for 205 hours not worked over twenty-two months at a cost of at least $1,607;

·        An OPWDD developmental aide charged 64 hours of unscheduled sick leave even though he was actually attending out-of-state basketball games associated with his SUNY employment. He was paid for 64 hours of sick leave at $1,187.20 and was paid as much as $689.43 for time not worked; and

·        There were 16 MTA employees who, because of their dual employment, were violating time limits for consecutive hours worked within a 24-hour period and were potentially putting public transportation users at risk.

Each of the six entities is performing its own internal investigation of employees identified in the audits.  At OCFS, two employees were fired, while a third resigned. The Comptroller’s office has also instructed the agencies to adjust calculations for any unearned pension credits given to the cited employees.

DiNapoli’s auditors recommended that agencies develop more comprehensive regulations to protect public health and safety, when permitted by labor contracts. Agencies should also consult with the Department of Civil Service and public employee unions to articulate more realistic time and attendance policies that reflect legally permissible practices, maximize productivity, and ensure adequate staff coverage.

The agencies and authorities generally agreed with the audit findings and to provide training on time and attendance policies, and recover overpayments for time not worked. The Comptroller’s office will also start providing agencies with data to allow payroll offices to better monitor employees with two or more jobs.

For a copy of the dual employment roll-up report visit: http://osc.state.ny.us/reports/dual_employment_roll_up.pdf

The individual audit for MTA can be found here: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093014/11s46.pdf

The individual audit for OPWDD can be found here: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093014/11s22.pdf

The individual audit for DOCCS can be found at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093014/12s129.pdf

The individual audit for OMH can be found at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093014/11s47.pdf

The individual audit for OCFS can be found at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093014/11s48.pdf

The individual audit for UCS can be found at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093014/12s79.pdf

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