Friday, February 27, 2015
Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on February 26, 2015
On February 26, 2015 New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced that the following audits have been issued:
Department of Health (DOH): Medicaid Program: Medicaid Claims Processing Activity April 1, 2013 Through September 30, 2013 (2013-S-12)
DOH’s eMedNY computer system processes Medicaid claims submitted by providers for services rendered to Medicaid-eligible recipients, and it generates payments to reimburse the providers for their claims. During the six-month period ended Sept. 30, 2013, auditors identified over $5.6 million in inappropriate or questionable Medicaid payments. By the end of the audit fieldwork, auditors recovered about $2.3 million of the overpayments identified.
Department of Labor (DOL): Assessment and Collection of Selected Fees and Penalties (Follow-Up) (2014-F-19)
An initial report issued in May 2013, determined DOL had not collected about $3.8 million in fees and penalties for the Public Work Enforcement Fund, the boiler inspection program and the asbestos abatement program. Auditors also determined DOL does not have accurate records to show who is required to pay boiler inspection and asbestos-related project fees. In a follow-up, auditors found DOL has made substantial progress in addressing the issues identified in the initial report.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA): Headquarters and Capital Construction Travel and Entertainment Expenses (2013-S-47)
Auditors found MTA Headquarters and MTA Capital Construction have opportunities to strengthen controls over travel and entertainment, which could help reduce certain costs. For example, MTAHQ and MTACC could utilize federal travel guidelines (established by the U.S. General Services Administration and the U.S. Department of State) pertaining to maximum allowable lodging rates. Auditors found certain travel transactions lacked proper prior approvals, statements of purpose, or other required supporting travel documentation. Business office staff did not consistently ensure that all required approvals and supporting documents were included with employees’ travel expense reports.
An initial report issued in June 2012 found that although the state Legislature had extended the right of preference for housing to many more veterans, few actually benefited due to inaction or disregard by housing companies and lax enforcement by NYC HPD. Auditors found two housing companies in Manhattan (Hamilton House and Clinton Towers) filled vacant apartments with non-veterans even though veterans had been identified on their waiting lists. In a follow-up report, auditors found NYC HPD has made progress in addressing the issues identified in the initial report and has implemented all three prior recommendations.
Office of Information Technology Services (OITS): Security and Effectiveness of Division of Criminal Justice Services’ (DCJS) Core Systems (2014-S-24)
Auditors found that OITS does not have an established monitoring and oversight process for user access management of DCJS systems and is not operating in compliance with state cyber security policies. OITS does not have established policies and procedures for backup of key DCJS systems. Also, ITS does not have an active regional backup site, and DCJS systems are at risk for total data loss in the event of a regional disaster. Auditors also found OITS does not have an established monitoring and oversight process for software or operating systems and changes made to these systems.
Office of Information Technology Services (OITS): Security and Effectiveness of the Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance System (2014-S9)
Auditors found the Unemployment Insurance System data has not yet been classified as required by the current security policy, even though 80 of the 83 unemployment insurance applications in use by the Labor Department have been deemed mission critical. The security policy indicates that all agency information should be classified on an ongoing basis based on its confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Almost two years after the transition of services, OITS still does not have a service level agreement in place governing responsibilities and services provided to human services agencies. Auditors also found that although mainframe programming changes are logged, there is no indication of when these changes have been implemented, thereby reducing accountability.
Office of Information Technology Services (OITS): Security and Effectiveness of Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) Licensing and Registration Systems (2013-S-58)
Auditors found OITS and DMV are not in compliance with the payment card industry data security standards that govern the systems that process credit card transactions. Since January 2012, neither agency has completed and submitted a required self-assessment questionnaire or third-party compliance report, which are necessary to ensure that all risks have been properly identified and mitigated. Non-compliance also exposes the state to other risks ranging from extensive fines or penalties to business disruption due to cancelled accounts and the inability to accept credit card payments. OITS does not have an established monitoring and oversight process for user access management of DMV systems and is not operating in compliance with state cybersecurity policies.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
An adjunct professor employed by the Westchester Community College was terminated for allegedly making offensive comments in class. She sued, contending that the Community College violated her state and federal constitutional rights.
Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on February 25, 2015
The board adopted budgets that relied too heavily on fund balance as a financing source and appropriated more fund balance than it had available. The board has not developed a multiyear financial plan to address long-term priorities or a policy to determine the amount of fund balance to maintain.
Town of Dickinson – Fiscal Oversight (Franklin County)
The board did not effectively oversee the town’s financial operations. The supervisor did not provide the board with adequate monthly financial reports. In addition, the town’s procedures for auditing claims were not in compliance with town law.
Johnstown Public Library – Cash Receipts (Fulton County)
Auditors were unable to determine if all collections were recorded and deposited in a timely manner and intact. This was because library officials have not established formal policies or procedures for handling and recording cash receipts.
Town of Kiantone – Town Clerk (Chautauqua County)
The town clerk did not deposit all money collected. As of June 23, 2014, the clerk had a shortage totaling $3,147. In addition, the clerk did not record, deposit or remit money collected in an accurate and timely manner. Auditors also found the board did not provide adequate oversight of the clerk’s operations.
Town of Lewisboro – Financial Condition (Westchester County)
The town’s general, sewer and water funds all had a deficit fund balance at some point from 2009 through 2013. While officials were able to eliminate accumulated deficits in these funds by the end of 2013, they have not developed a multiyear financial plan to help monitor operations and guard against future operating deficits.
Village of Mill Neck – Financial Management (Nassau County) The board has not established adequate policies and procedures or provided guidance on maintaining a reasonable level of fund balance. As a result, the village has accumulated excessive fund balance in its general fund that resulted, at least in part, from unrealistic budget estimates.
Saratoga Springs Public Library – Claims Processing (Saratoga County)
Internal controls over the claims audit process were not designed appropriately. For example, not all claims included signatures from the director or department heads to indicate that goods and services were actually received. In addition, the board assigned the responsibility to audit and approve all claims for payment to the president.
Town of Sweden – Justice Court (Monroe County)
The justices do not provide adequate oversight of court operations to ensure the accurate and complete collection, deposit, recording and reporting of court moneys in a timely manner. The justices have not adequately segregated the duties of the clerks and do not regularly review accounting records, bank statements, or monthly reconciliations and accountability analyses.
Town of Tyrone – Financial Management (Schuyler County)
Town officials have not developed multiyear financial plans, policies, or procedures to govern budgeting practices or the level of unexpended surplus funds to maintain. The board adopted budgets that were not based on sound and realistic estimates of revenues and expenditures. Poor budgeting, along with overspending in the highway fund, has caused cash flow problems, which required inter-fund transfers and advances from the general fund to pay bills over the last several years.
Town of West Union – Board Oversight and Cash Receipts and Disbursements (Steuben County)
The board has not provided adequate oversight to safeguard town assets. Specifically, the board did not adopt structurally balanced budgets. For fiscal years 2011 through 2013, the town had excessive fund balances in both the general fund and highway fund. In addition, the board did not audit the books and records of any of the town officers and employees that handled cash.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
2015 NY Slip Op 01573, Appellate Division, First Department
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The letter can be viewed on the Internet at:
Monday, February 23, 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
New Disclosure Requirements:
Public officials will be required to disclose all outside earned income they receive, from whom they receive it, the actual services performed to receive the income and whether there is any connection to the state government or the office that they hold and the work performed. Specifically:
Per Diem Reform
Further, the proposal would operationalize these reforms. The Office of State Comptroller will be prohibited from reimbursing expenses for a member of the legislature or statewide elected official until expanded disclosure provisions are met. Additionally, new caps are placed on the amount of reimbursement authorized under the law at the same level as the caps that currently apply to all other state employees. This proposal also repeals current law that gives great discretion to legislative leaders to broaden and increase per diems.
Campaign Finance Disclosure
Professionals employed by educational institutions entitled to employment insurance benefits for periods between two successive academic years absent a reasonable assurance of continued employment
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Probationary employee should be given timely notice of employer’s concerns that the employee’s performance placed continued employment at risk
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli during the week ending February 15, 2015
Source: Office of the State Comptroller
DiNapoli Honored with National Leadership Award New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli received the William R. Snodgrass Distinguished Leadership Award from the Association of Government Accountants at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Feb. 11. The award is given annually to state government professionals who exemplify and promote excellence in government financial management.
Comptroller DiNapoli and A.G. Schneiderman Announce Sentencing of Former Met Council Insurance Brokers State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman Friday announced that Solomon Ross and William Lieber, former insurance brokers for the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (“Met Council”), each have been sentenced to five years of probation and will each pay $1.5 million in restitution to Met Council. As part of their sentence, they will also surrender their broker’s licenses to the New York State Department of Financial Services.
Friday, February 13, 2015
A school district active employee and the district’s retired employee must be provided with identical health insurance benefits
Anderson v Niagara Falls City School Dist., 2015 NY Slip Op 01098, Appellate Division, Fourth Department
After the Niagara Falls City School District [Niagara Falls] transferred its retirees from a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Traditional Plan [Traditional Plan] to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Forever Blue Medicare Plan [Forever Blue Plan] the retirees [Anderson] sued contending that the transfer resulted in a reduction in their health insurance benefits while Niagara Falls failed to effectuate a similar reduction in benefits for its active employees.
The relevant collective bargaining agreement [CBA] did not address what kind of health insurance plan would be available to retirees during retirement but prior to July 1, 2011, the Traditional Plan was available to Anderson. After June 30, 2011 Niagara Falls discontinued offering the Traditional Plan to retirees, including Anderson, and transferred its then retired former employees, Anderson included, to the Forever Blue Plan.
Anderson, a pre-July 1, 2011 retiree, alleged that Niagara Falls' actions were arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful, and in violation of Chapter 504 of the Laws of 2009, the so-called moratorium statute,, and sought to compel the School District to make the Traditional Plan available to Niagara Falls retirees once again.
Niagara Falls, on the other hand, contended that the coverage provided under the Forever Blue Plan was the "exact same coverage" as the Traditional Plan, with the exception of "one difference: there was “a minor increase in the co-pays under the new current plan." In order to compensate the retirees for that increase, Niagara Falls would deposit $600 per year into a medical reimbursement account for each retiree, including Anderson.
Supreme Court granted Anderson’s petition in its entirety and the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling.
The Appellate Division explained that although Niagara Falls argued that the Anderson did not have a viable cause of action under the moratorium statute, relying on Kolbe v Tibbets, 22 NY3d 340, the Appellate Division rejected its contention indicating that the moratorium statute relied on by the school district “sets a minimum baseline or ‘floor’ for retiree health benefits, and that ‘floor’ is measured by the health insurance benefits received by the school district’s active employees.”
In other words, said the court, “the moratorium statute does not permit an employer to whom the statute applies to provide [its] retirees with lesser health insurance benefits than [its] active employees.”
Anderson alleged that health insurance benefits available to retirees have been diminished below the "floor" of the corresponding benefits for Niagara Falls’ active employees. This, said the court, is the “precise trigger” that permits Anderson to assert a cause of action under the moratorium statute.
Further, said the court, the issue in Kolbe was whether the employer could reduce or eliminate retiree benefits regardless of the language in the governing CBAs, so long as they made the same modification to active employees, and resolving that issue involved an interpretation of the contractual provisions of the governing CBAs. In rejecting the employer’s position in Kolbe, the Court of Appeals held that the moratorium statute was "not meant to eviscerate contractual obligations."
Here, however, Anderson did not allege that Niagara Falls had violated a provision of the CBA and, thus, no issue of contract interpretation is presented here. In Kolbe the petitioners were “attempting to vindicate the negotiated rights bestowed on them in the governing CBAs” while in this action Anderson is attempting to vindicate the rights bestowed on retirees under the moratorium statute.
As to the merits of the Anderson case, the Appellate Division said that Supreme Court “properly determined that [Niagara City School District’s] actions were arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful, and in violation of the moratorium statute, because there was a substantial reduction in health insurance benefits for the retirees or their dependents without a corresponding reduction of benefits for active employees.”
The decision is posted on the Internet at:
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
In a report released February 10, 2015 by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the Comptoller reports that proposed 2015-2016 Executive Budget holds down spending and boosts state reserves, according to. At the same time, the proposed budget increases potential out-year gaps and gives the Executive new latitude to move and spend money outside the formal appropriation process, including billions of dollars in financial settlements.
The General Fund is projected to end state fiscal year (SFY) 2014-15 with a closing balance of $7.8 billion. Excluding settlement revenues, the General Fund is expected to end the year with a balance of nearly $2.4 billion, $313 million higher than anticipated when the budget was enacted in March 2014.
The Division of the Budget (DOB) projects spending from State Operating Funds in the next fiscal year to total just under $94 billion, an increase of 1.7 percent, or $1.6 billion, from SFY 2014-15. Based on these projections, and after adjusting for prepayments and other proposed changes, DiNapoli estimates that spending would increase under the Executive’s proposal by 3.1 percent.
DOB projects budget surpluses in future years, resulting in part from unspecified actions needed to limit annual growth in State Operating Funds expenditures to 2 percent. Based on projections of revenues and disbursements by DOB, and excluding the unspecified savings in State Operating Funds spending, the Comptroller estimates annual out-year gaps averaging nearly $3.3 billion in SFY 2016-17 through SFY 2018-19. These potential gaps are more than one-third larger than estimates based on the SFY 2014-15 Executive Budget.
The Governor’s spending plan raises the allowable amount that can be deposited into the Rainy Day Reserve Fund and allocates $315 million for the Rainy Day Reserve Fund and the Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund. More robust reserves would improve the state’s ability to respond to fiscal emergencies, as DiNapoli has advocated. However, the budget also allows the state to more easily withdraw reserve money and commit it to other purposes.
DOB forecasts that state tax collections will strengthen in SFY 2015-16, with growth of $3.6 billion, or 5.1 percent, compared to expected growth of 1.7 percent in the current fiscal year. The projected increase results primarily from stronger economic growth and an expected rebound in PIT receipts.
The Executive Budget creates a new Capital Projects Fund which could receive a portion of the nearly $5.7 billion in financial settlements. The Executive has identified various projects to be supported by the fund, including transportation infrastructure, a $500 million broadband initiative and funding for farms and agriculture. However, the proposed budget legislation related to the Dedicated Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF) would allow the money to be used for virtually any purpose, including operational costs.
DiNapoli’s report notes that the Executive Budget reduces transparency, accountability and oversight in some areas. For example, the proposal lacks individual public school district funding estimates and includes measures to bypass existing statutory provisions that promote integrity in state procurement, including the elimination of competitive bidding, public notice requirements and State Comptroller review in certain instances. Other provisions would blur lines of functions and responsibilities of state agencies and public authorities, expand DOB’s authority to move funds among state agencies and authorities, and authorize expanded access to New Yorkers’ personal information among state agencies.
Proposes to increase education aid by $1.1 billion, or 4.8 percent, but conditions any increase on legislative enactment of certain statutory changes involving teacher evaluations, governance of struggling schools and other matters;
Projects overall Medicaid spending in New York, including federal funding and local government expenditures, will total more than $62 billion in SFY 2015-16, an increase of 5.6 percent;
As chief fiscal officer for the state, the State Comptroller annually examines the Executive Budget proposal and the enacted budget. DiNapoli also issues monthly reports on the state’s cash position.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
2015 NY Slip Op 00813, Appellate Division, First Department
Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:
The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/
A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com
The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/
Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/
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