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September 1, 2009


Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Audits

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

Department of Environmental Conservation: State Forest Timber Sales (Follow-Up Report) (2009-F-25)
The Department of Environmental Conservation regularly cuts down trees in state-owned forests to promote forest health and biodiversity, ensure forest sustainability, provide for recreational opportunities, and accomplish other important forest management goals. The Department sells the harvested timber to the highest bidder in publicly advertised sales.

The Department has determined the optimal amount of sustainable harvesting that can be done in state forests each year. However, auditors found that the department was harvesting only about half that amount. As a result, important forest management goals were not being fully achieved and about $4.85 million a year in potential timber sale revenue was being lost. Auditors determined that the main reason for the low harvest rate was a lack of available staff. Auditors recommended the department formally evaluate the costs and benefits of hiring additional foresters. Auditors also recommended that improvements be made in the Department’s administration of its publicly advertised timber sales. When auditors followed up on these matters with department officials, they found that progress had been in implementing the audit recommendations, but additional actions were still needed.

Department of Health: Inappropriate Medicaid Payments for Durable Medical Equipment While Recipients Resided in Nursing Homes (Follow-Up Report) (2009-F-12)
Charges for durable medical equipment are often included in the comprehensive Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes. Accordingly, Medicaid generally should not be billed separately for these charges when such equipment is provided to nursing home residents. However, auditors found that Medicaid sometimes was billed separately for this equipment. During a five-year audit period, auditors identified about $3.1 million in potentially inappropriate payments for such equipment. Auditors recommended that the payments be investigated, all inappropriate payments recovered, and controls improved to prevent such payments in the future. When auditors followed up on these matters with Department of Health (DOH) officials, they found DOH generally implemented audit recommendations.

State University of New York: Health Science Center at Stony Brook: Contract with Cannon Design (Follow-Up Report) (2008-F-53)
In a previous report, auditors found improvements were needed in the Health Science Center at Stony Brook’s administration of construction-related contracts. In particular, more effective planning was needed to prevent unnecessary redesign costs. Auditors recommended that planning efforts be enhanced in future construction projects. When auditors followed up on these matters with center officials, they found that some of the recommendations had been implemented and others had not.

New York City Human Resources Administration: Recycling Program (2008-N-14)
The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) is required to comply with recycling requirements specified in New York City rules and regulations. Auditors examined HRA’s compliance with these requirements and found that improvements were needed. For example, 5 of the 14 HRA facilities we audited were not in compliance with source-separation requirements and a recycling coordinator was not appointed until January 2009, after the completion of audit fieldwork and at least five years after the appointment was required. In addition, HRA’s recycling plan did not contain all the required elements. Auditors recommended that HRA fully comply with all recycling requirements.

Department of Health: Medicaid Payments to Office of Mental Health and Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Providers While Recipients Were Hospitalized (Follow-Up Report) (2008-F-32)
Many of the clients served by the Office of Mental Health and the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities receive services in community-based settings. Some of these services are eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. In an earlier report, auditors examined selected Medicaid payments for such services over a five-year period and identified more than $2.4 million in inappropriate payments. In some instances, the services were not eligible for reimbursement, and in other instances, the clients were hospitalized and had not been in a community-based setting for a sufficient period of time to qualify for reimbursement. Auditors recommended the Department of Health recover the overpayments and develop controls to prevent future overpayments. When auditors followed up on these matters with department officials, they found there had been some progress made implementing audit recommendations, but additional actions were still needed.

State Government Accountability
The Office of the State Comptroller regularly audits state agencies, public authorities and New York City agencies. 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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