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August 25, 2008

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today that the following audits have been issued:

Department of State Cemetery Maintenance Fund (Report 2008-F-18)
Cemeteries in New York State that are regulated by the Department of State are required to pay interment fees to the Cemetery Maintenance Fund. These cemeteries may submit claims to the Fund to cover the costs of certain repairs. When auditors examined the Department’s controls over fee collections and disbursements, they found that the amounts paid into the Fund in fees exceeded the amounts disbursed. Auditors recommended that consideration be given to reducing fee amounts.

Higher Education Services Corporation Quality of Internal Control Certification (Report 2008-S-96)
The Higher Education Services Corporation administers grand and scholarship programs for students attending colleges in New York State. State agencies and public authorities must annually certify their compliance with internal control provisions. The audit examined the adequacy of the Corporation’s certification of compliance and found that the certification was complete and thorough. Auditors also found that the Corporation has a structured, ongoing, well-documented internal control review process. However, auditors found that the Corporation needed to take certain actions to ensure the independence of its internal audit function.

Higher Education Services Corporation – Tuition Assistance Program – Interboro Institute (Report 2007-T-6)
During the 2003-2004 through 2005-2006 academic years, Interboro Institute certified $50.2 million in Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards. Auditors examined these awards, as well as certain other awards from other academic years, and disallowed a total of $2.4 million in TAP awards. The awards were disallowed because students were incorrectly certified as eligible for the awards.

Office of General Services Controls Over Overtime Costs (Report 2007-S-125)
The Office of General Services (OGS) provides various support services to state agencies, public authorities, municipalities and other political subdivisions of New York State. Auditors examined OGS’s controls over its overtime costs, which totaled about $3.5 million a year, and found adequate controls in place to provide reasonable assurance employees were being paid only for hours they actually worked and overtime was being assigned in accordance with the prevailing guidelines.

State Commission of Correction Oversight of Correctional Facilities and Handling of Grievances and Complaints (2006-S-93)
The State Commission of Correction (SCOC) is an independent State agency that is responsible for overseeing all State and local correctional facilities in New York State. SCOC has promulgated regulations governing the operation of correctional facilities and the treatment of inmates within the facilities, and relies on inspections to determine whether the facilities are complying with the regulations. We found SCOC was not fulfilling its responsibilities for overseeing State correctional facilities, as it stopped inspecting State prisons when its staffing levels were reduced during the 1990s. In addition, even though SCOC was supposed to begin overseeing the State’s secure facilities for youths in 1996, it had not promulgated regulations governing their operations and did not begin inspecting the facilities until 2007. We also found that SCOC was not fully meeting its inspection goals for local correctional facilities or handling grievances in a timely manner.

State Commission of Correction Selected Operating Practices Regarding Correction Officer Training and Facility Planning (Report 2007-S-11)
The State Commission of Correction is supposed to approve the construction of new correctional facilities and the expansion or renovation of existing facilities. However, auditors found that SCOC was not aware of all construction or improvement projects at all correctional facilities, and as a result, had not approved the projects. For example, the audit identified 152 state correctional facility projects and 22 county projects that had not been reviewed and approved by SCOC. The audit found that SCOC had not ensured that all correction officers at state and county correctional facilities were trained in accordance with SCOC requirements.

State Education Department Higher Education Opportunity Program (Report 2007-S-106)
The State Education Department administers the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), which provides tutoring, counseling, tuition-support and financial assistance to economically and academically disadvantaged students attending private colleges and universities in New York State. Auditors examined the use of HEOP funds at four selected schools that accounted for about a quarter of all program expenditures including: New York University, Long Island University- Brooklyn campus, Syracuse University and the College of St. Rose in Albany. The audit found that all four schools appeared to be using HEOP funds solely for their prescribed purposes.

The reports are available by clicking on the report name or by calling (518) 474-4015.

State Agency and Public Authority Audits
The Office of the State Comptroller regularly audits state agencies and public authorities. Auditors ensure that programs achieve their established goals, funds are used efficiently and assets are adequately protected against fraud, waste and abuse. DiNapoli’s office completes approximately 200 state audits and annually identifies hundreds of millions in savings and fraud each year.



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