Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli during the week ending June 7, 2014
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New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the following audits have been issued during the week ending June 7, 2014.:
Corcraft is a major component within the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Corcraft's mission is to employ offenders in real work situations to produce quality goods and services at competitive prices. Current procurement practices allow one person, the purchasing supervisor, to control almost all of the process for the procurement of textiles. The inadequate separation of incompatible duties and lack of compensating controls increases the risk of favoritism in the award process. Auditors found Corcraft officials awarded contracts without testing all of the required specifications and instead used their own discretion in deciding whether and which specifications were tested. As a result, they did not adequately ensure open competition, and there was limited assurance that contracts totaling $32.3 million went to the lowest responsive and responsible vendors.
During the audit period, auditors found Medicaid could have saved up to $69 million if it limited payments of Medicare Part C cost-sharing liabilities such that the total Medicare and Medicaid payment for a service did not exceed Medicaid's normal service fee. Other states already use this approach and New York uses this approach to limit payments for certain other Medicare cost-sharing liabilities. In addition, auditors determined Medicaid made $1.6 million in overpayments for Medicare Part C cost-sharing because recipients were not enrolled in Part C.
Department of Health, Medicaid Program: Medicaid Claims Processing Activity October 1, 2012 Through March 31, 2013 (2012-S-131)
Auditors identified about $13 million in inappropriate or questionable Medicaid payments, including:
$6,329,458 in questionable payments for claims that were not subjected to the appropriate edits and pricing logic due to eMedNY's incorrect designation of the claim type being processed; $2,965,300 in overpayments for claims billed with incorrect information pertaining to recipients' other health insurance coverage; $2,689,352 in inappropriate payments for lab services claims submitted well beyond the required time frame for submission; $488,837 in overpayments for claims for duplicate billings; $222,806 in overpayments for claims for a dialysis drug billed at 10 times the number of units actually provided; and claims with improper payments for physician-administered drugs, hospital services, medical equipment and dental services.
By the end of the audit fieldwork, auditors recovered about $3.8 million of the overpayments identified.
Travel expenses totaling $466,301 for 14 of the 17 DOH employees selected for review were appropriate and adhered to state travel rules and regulations. However, for three employees, auditors identified numerous problems with travel practices and related expenses attributed to inadequate oversight. Of the $121,727 in travel expenses examined for the three employees, auditors found problems with costs totaling $14,870.
Auditors found that HRA employees apply a comprehensive assessment process when determining a client's eligibility, and that process is in compliance with governing regulations and procedures. However, procedural revisions are necessary to reduce the number of hearings held, and to reduce the number of HRA determinations that are reversed at hearings.
In an initial audit report issued in February 2012, auditors found a culture at the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), emanating from the highest levels of the agency, that disregarded the New York State Finance Law, the state's procurement guidelines and the agency's own procurement policies. This did not result in the best value for the taxpayers, but instead led to a waste of substantial public resources. Moreover, in several notable instances, transgressions appeared to have been motivated by personal gain and may have violated the ethics standards contained in the New York State Public Officers Law. In a follow up, auditors found ITS officials have made some progress and continue to make progress in addressing the problems identified in the initial audit. Of the eight prior audit recommendations, one was implemented and seven were partially implemented.
Auditors identified $125,302 in unsupported or inappropriate personal service expenses charged to the housing program. These charges included unsupported salary allocations and inappropriate overtime payments to management. Auditors also identified $295,321 in unsupported or inappropriate non-personal service expense items, including expenses associated with the unrelated program facilities, payments to a contractor to enhance his personal property and rental payments for unoccupied apartments. Sky Light officials cannot account for over $75,000 in contingency funds that were to be used specifically for client housing emergencies. Additionally, Sky Light officials did not make all required visits to client apartments. Auditors identified several potential safety issues, including the lack of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Auditors found the authority conducted the required biennial inspection of its highway bridges, but does not follow New York state requirements for classifying, reporting and repairing bridge defects. Instead it follows its own method, but does not always satisfy state requirements. As a result, it did not perform 47 interim inspections for priority conditions open more than one year. The authority also did not inspect a highway bridge with an immediate safety concern for 332 days while it awaited repairs. Ten of the 17 safety concerns sampled were not repaired for more than two years, including three which were open for five years.
Expenses for nine of the 10 University employees selected for review were appropriate. For a track coach, however, officials did not enforce Office of State Comptroller and university guidelines limiting travel advance amounts and requiring unspent balances to be returned on a timely basis. The track coach routinely overestimated the amount of advance funds needed for athletic events. As a result, at one point he had over $87,000 in outstanding advances. Also, the coach consistently returned unused advance funds more than two months later than required by the university. University officials allowed this coach to pay back his travel advances in installments – similar to the payback of a loan. The track coach may have violated the Public Officers Law by employing his daughter as a volunteer coach and using state funds to pay for her travel with him and the team to local and national track events.
Medgar Evers was overpaid $3,398,205 over three academic years because school officials incorrectly certified students as eligible for Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards. Incorrect certifications include 29 students who received awards but did not meet the requirements for full-time status, 14 students who did not maintain good academic standing, four students whose accounts were not credited with the TAP payment, three students who were not properly matriculated, two students who enrolled in programs not approved by the State Education Department, one student who did not meet the citizenship requirement, and one student for whom auditors found insufficient proof that she satisfied the New York state residency requirement.
Auditors determined that Pratt's certification procedures substantially complied with the governing Law and Regulations during the audit period for the transactions tested. There is low risk that a significant number of students certified for TAP were not eligible for awards. Nonetheless, tests did disclose 26 awards totaling $38,236 that school officials certified in error. After reviewing the errors, Pratt officials decertified one award for $2,450 and sent another student a $50 refund check.
Labor Department needs to improve wage theft investigations
The state Department of Labor (DOL) doesn’t complete many of its wage theft investigations in a timely manner, allowing thousands of cases to remain unresolved for a year or more, according to an audit released June 6, 2014 by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
Wage theft is the illegal holding of wages or denial of benefits to a worker by an employer. Examples include failing to pay overtime, not giving workers their last paycheck after they leave a job or not paying for all the hours the employee worked.
DiNapoli’s auditors found that, as of August 26, 2013, DOL had more than 17,000 open cases, an increase of about 150 percent from the 7,000 cases on hand at the start of 2008. The current caseload consists of about 9,300 active investigations and more than 7,800 cases pending payment. Of these, almost 13,000, or 75 percent, were at least one year old from initial claim date.
The increasing backlog stems largely from system and process deficiencies that hinder timely investigations, coupled with a limited number of staff to perform the growing amount of work. As of August 2013, auditors estimate that DOL’s 98 investigators were responsible for an average of 95 active investigations each. According to the audit, resolving the inefficiencies in DOL’s procedures and its use of resources could significantly improve productivity.
DiNapoli’s auditors also found:
1. DOL’s Workforce Protection Management System does not provide management with accurate or useful case management reports;
2. Employers may be allowed a payment plan for restitution, but DOL has not established criteria to guide eligibility or payment terms; and
3. DOL does not maintain a centralized record of all payment plans in effect, and neither the Division of Labor Standards nor its districts have adequate controls in place to track and monitor employer compliance.
During the audit period the division instituted procedural changes to streamline its work and reduce the backlog.
DiNapoli recommended DOL:
1. Continue efforts to close the oldest wage investigation cases and strive to investigate and resolve newer cases faster;
2. Monitor the newly implemented strategies discussed in this report and continue to pursue additional initiatives to reduce the wage investigation case backlog and complete new wage investigation cases sooner;
3. Correct system flaws and develop capability to create meaningful reports to better manage the current cases and backlog;
4. Establish specific payment plan procedures;
5. Develop criteria for investigators to use to determine if a payment plan should be granted;
6. Ensure that each district office follows the payment plan procedures and keeps similar records; and
7. Develop a centralized payment collection system to effectively separate incompatible duties and to manage all payment plan information and transactions.
“It is imperative that DOL do a better job resolving wage theft cases as workers across New York are often waiting too long for the compensation they rightly deserve,” DiNapoli said. “While wage theft investigations are generally complex and time-intensive, any lags pose a risk that complications, such as lost records, could arise and interfere with an investigation and possible settlement.”
DOL officials responded to the audit’s recommendations and indicated the actions they are taking to address them. For a copy of the report, including DOL’s response, click on http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093014/13s38.pdf