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December 16, 2013

Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli during the week ending December 14, 2013

Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli during the week ending December 14, 2013
Click on text highlighted in color  to access the full report

Audit reveals state contractor spent $20,000 legislative member item on herself and family

A Brooklyn contractor helped herself to state-funded equipment, including an iPad used by her granddaughter and a laptop her husband used for personal purposes, according to an audit released on December 13, 2013 by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The contractor, Homeowners Association, Inc., was paid by the state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to train Brooklyn residents on ways to improve their financial situation.

The Comptroller sent his findings to the state Attorney General’s Civil Recoveries Bureau. He recommended that OCFS work with the Attorney General to make a full recovery of the $20,000.

"This vendor was supposed to help individuals achieve the American dream of homeownership. Instead, she fulfilled her own dreams and allowed her family to use state-funded equipment for homework assignments, iTunes downloads and other personal business,” DiNapoli said.  “OCFS needs to ensure that the public’s money is used appropriately. State agencies which administer grants must be held accountable for taxpayer money.”

Homeowners’ president, Carolyn Faulkner, received the grant through a state legislative member item to purchase equipment for workshops, seminars, meetings and newsletters on homeownership, credit worthiness and foreclosure preventions for residents of East New York, Brownsville and Canarsie in Brooklyn. Instead, DiNapoli’s auditors found, from 2010 to 2011, Faulkner spent all of the $20,000 on equipment that was used primarily for her family’s personal activities.

Anyone with additional information on any matter involving public corruption or fraud is encouraged to contact the Comptroller’s office by dialing the toll-free fraud hotline at 1-888-672-4555; filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us; or mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller Investigations Unit, 110 State Street, 14th floor, Albany, NY 12236.

On Thursday, December 12, 2013 New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the following audits had been issued:

Battery Park City Authority, Selected Aspects of Discretionary Spending (2012-S-158)
Auditors sampled 69 discretionary expenditures totaling $112,132 and questioned 53 totaling $100,700 because these transactions did not appear necessary, were not clearly related to the purpose of the authority, were not properly approved or were not adequately supported with documentation. Included in the questioned expenditures were payments totaling $61,800 for charitable contributions to various not-for-profit organizations. In these instances, the authority lacked documentation to show how it determined which organizations to select for donations, how contributing to such organization was related to or supported the authority's mission and why the donated amounts were appropriate. Our follow up showed that the authority made payments totaling $1.05 million for the audit period for charitable donations.

Office of General Services, State Agency Small-Dollar Purchases (Follow-Up) (2013-F-25)
In an initial report, issued in September 2010, auditors looked at the extent to which state agencies process small-dollar transactions using paper-based voucher processes instead of the State procurement card, and to identify potential cost savings and revenue enhancements achievable through better use of procurement cards. In a follow-up, auditors found OGS officials have made significant progress in addressing the issues identified in the initial audit. All three prior audit recommendations have been implemented.

Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Fire Prevention, Safety and Control (2013-S-20)
Auditors found OPWDD is in compliance with applicable fire prevention, safety and control requirements that help ensure the safety of the vulnerable populations it serves and has significantly improved its fire safety procedures and practices since a 2009 fire in one of its residences that resulted in the death of four individuals.

Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Fire Prevention, Safety and Control (2013-S-40)
Auditors found OASAS is in compliance with applicable fire prevention, safety and control requirements that help ensure the safety of the vulnerable populations it serves.

Department of Civil Service, New York State Dental Program: Payments for Scaling and Root Planing Procedures (Follow-Up) (2013-F-20)
An initial audit report issued in July 2010 focused on Group Health Incorporated’s (GHI) controls over the payment of scaling and root planing procedures and to determine if GHI overpaid for scaling and root planing services. GHI officials have made progress in correcting the problems auditors identified in the initial report. However, improvements are still needed. Of the three prior audit recommendations, two have been implemented and one recommendation is no longer applicable.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Inspecting Highway Bridges and Repairing Defects (2012-S-32)
Generally, the MTA’s Long Island Rail Road its Bridges and Tunnels department perform bridge inspections and related repairs to correct flag deficiencies in a timely manner as required by state and federal regulations. However, there were a limited number of exceptions suggesting a need for further improvement.  From a sample of 116 flags, auditors found that nine B&T safety flags and two department safety flags on LIRR bridges remained unresolved for extended periods of time ranging from 12 to 45 months after being identified.  For three B&T Red Flags, the required re-inspections were performed from two to eleven days late.  Five LIRR bridges were being inspected by both the department and the LIRR.

Department of Health, Overpayments to Cabrini Medical Center - Follow-Up (2013-F-19)
An audit report issued in April 2012, identified $1.9 million in Medicaid overpayments to Cabrini Medical Center. The overpayments occurred because a billing company (hired by Cabrini) incorrectly altered information on Cabrini's claims and resubmitted the incorrect claims to Medicaid. In a follow-up, auditors found DOH officials made significant progress in addressing the problems identified in the initial audit. This included the recovery of improper payments totaling $1.46 million, in addition to $904,000 in payments prevented by the initial audit.  However, further actions are still needed. Of the six prior audit recommendations, three were implemented and three were partially implemented.


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NYPPL Lawblogger Harvey Randall served as Principal Attorney, New York State Department of Civil Service; as Director of Research, Governor’s Office of Employee Relations; as Director of Personnel for the State University of New York System; and as Staff Judge Advocate General, New York Guard. Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material posted to this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor members of the NYPPL staff are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is urged to seek such advice from a knowledgeable professional. NYPPL's Email Address = nyppl@nycap.rr.com