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March 1, 2012

 

DiNapoli: Elevator Maintenance Falls Short at State Colleges

Schools Not Getting What They Paid For, Risking Student and Staff Safety


Elevators are not receiving the preventive maintenance and inspections that companies are being paid more than $17 million to provide at several state colleges, according to recent audits issued by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.  

“The safety of students, staff and visitors must not be jeopardized by lax oversight. Immediate steps need to be taken to ensure companies perform the maintenance work they have been hired to do,” DiNapoli said. “Recent elevator accidents have highlighted that safety has to be a priority. Companies have to be held accountable to keep the public safe and assure that taxpayers get the services they pay for.”

Audits of four colleges with elevator maintenance contracts totalling $17.4 million found:

  • Buffalo State College did not have controls in place to ensure Otis Elevator or DCB Elevators performed all of the services they were paid for. Otis did not perform any preventive maintenance on 15 elevators during the seven month period audited and performed only 89 of the 975 weekly preventive maintenance services required by contract over the same period. In addition, Otis did not perform inspections required by the terms of their contract.
  • The State University of New York at Binghamton allowed Otis to substitute the preventive maintenance schedule required by its contract with a schedule determined by Otis. University officials did not know if the substituted preventive maintenance services were comparable to the services required by the contract, if they paid a reasonable price for the maintenance provided, or if they received sufficient maintenance to keep elevators in good working condition. According to the contract, Otis was to provide 2,390 instances of weekly preventive maintenance services to the 94 elevators covered by the contract during the examination period, but only provided 430. In addition, 83 elevators did not receive any preventive maintenance for at least one month and 50 of those elevators did not receive any preventive maintenance for three months or more.
  • The records ThyssenKrupp Elevator Company (ThyssenKrupp) provided Baruch College to document their performance of elevator and escalator maintenance services were not reliable and auditors could not determine if the company performed all the preventive maintenance it was paid for. Based on the limited cases where records were reliable, ThyssenKrupp did not perform all the preventive maintenance to keep the college’s elevators safe for its riders. Auditors found that for certain preventive maintenance tasks required by the contract, the company performed just one of the 16 required tasks on elevators and 11 of the 30 required tasks on escalators during the audit period.  
  • Stony Brook University officials could not provide documentation to show Schindler Elevator Corporation performed all of the preventive maintenance required by the contract and did not effectively monitor the contract to ensure all services are performed. Based on the limited cases where the documents were reliable, Schindler did not perform all the required preventive maintenance for certain portions of the campus. For example, Schindler only performed one of the required preventive maintenance tasks eight percent of the time at the West Campus and Schindler did not perform required elevator inspections 44 percent of the time at the campus residences.

The reports recommended college officials:

  • Require the companies to perform all duties required by their contracts;
  • Develop policies and procedures to ensure payments for repairs and preventative maintenance are appropriate;
  • Ensure staff are trained to monitor contract payments; and
  • Recover money for services not performed.

DiNapoli’s auditors are also currently auditing two other elevator maintenance contracts.

As of February 2012, the state had 240 active contracts with 37 vendors for elevator maintenance valued at $114 million, with expenditures of $49 million so far. The state has paid $11.2 million for elevator maintenance in fiscal year 2011-2012.

For a copy of the audit of Buffalo State College, go to:
http://osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/p2009-0333.htm

For a copy of the audit of SUNY Binghamton, go to:
http://osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093011/20100391.htm
 
For a copy of the audit of CUNY’s Baruch College, go to:
http://osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/p2010-0397.htm

For a copy of the audit of SUNY Stony Brook, go to:
http://osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/p2009-0378.htm


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