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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015


State Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Audits

August 25, 2021

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

Department of Agriculture and Markets: Oversight of Industrial Hemp (Follow-Up) (2021-F-9)

A report covering the period April 1, 2016, through May 31, 2019, found that while the department’s industrial hemp program had expanded opportunities for hemp production in the state, it did not always follow established practices when reviewing applications, conducting inspections and sampling plants. In a follow-up, auditors found department officials made progress in addressing the problems identified in the initial audit. Of the initial report’s three audit recommendations, one has been fully implemented and two have been partially implemented.

Office of Mental Health (OMH): Oversight of Telemental Health Services (TMH) (2020-S-16)

As of December 23, 2020, there were 448 OMH-licensed, -designated, and/or -funded mental health care providers operating 1,677 programs eligible to offer TMH; however, 307 of those 448 providers operating 1,050 programs were not approved to use TMH beyond the declared COVID-19 disaster emergency. As a result, some patients may no longer be able to access TMH services once the disaster emergency period ends.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Metro-North Railroad: Response Planning for Unexpected Events (2019-S-55)

Overall, Metro-North has procedures to address how its employees respond to most issues that cause unexpected or unplanned events. However, the procedures were not always followed. In 38 of the 80 events sampled by auditors, there was not always documented evidence that the procedures were followed completely. In addition, 26 of the 80 events required the railroad’s Emergency Management Task Force (EMTF) to be placed on standby or activated; however, the EMTF was notified of only one event. Metro-North’s procedures require customers to be notified of unexpected or unplanned events within a set time frame, but during the sampled events, customers either were not notified or were informed late.

New York City Department of Buildings (DOB): Oversight of Sidewalk Sheds (2019-N-9)

DOB is responsible for regulating the safe and lawful use of more than 1 million buildings and construction sites in the city including sidewalk sheds, temporary structures installed to protect people and property on city sidewalks during construction and demolition operations. Auditors found DOB needs to better ensure that owners and other responsible parties comply with relevant codes, laws, and rules pertaining to the timely permitting, installation, maintenance, and removal of sheds. During the period Dec. 20, 2019, through March 10, 2020, auditors visited a sample of 74 sites located throughout the five boroughs, finding many with hazardous conditions and without posted permits.

New York City Department of Education (DOE): Career and Technical Education (CTE) (2019-N-4)

DOE could not show how existing CTE programs aligned with the labor market and student demand. Information provided did not reflect how DOE is overseeing or assisting high schools to align CTE programs with high-growth, high-demand industries. For three high-growth industry programs reviewed, auditors found school requirements and program admission priorities (based on residence in a particular borough or attendance at a fair or information session) made it difficult or impossible for some students to qualify or attend.

New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development: Mitchell-Lama Vacancies (2020-N-2)

The Mitchell-Lama Housing Program was created in 1955 to provide affordable rental and cooperative (co-op) housing to middle-income families. Auditors found that despite the scarcity of affordable housing, vacant apartments were generally not filled within the 120-day time frame, with 1,286 apartments taking, on average, 222 days to fill, including 214 that remained vacant for a year or longer. Protracted delays in filling apartments cost the developments about $9.1 million in unrealized income as of December 2019. At one development – Lindsay Park in Brooklyn – 15 apartments had been vacant for as long as 30 years.

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: Oversight of Construction Management Contracts (2020-S-43)

Parks has generally established controls to ensure construction management term contractors are meeting contract terms and requirements. Auditors identified only limited instances where the office could not provide documentation showing requirements were met and minor overpayments were made, for which Parks has obtained a refund from the contractor. Auditors also found Parks paid over $229,000 in fees under the contract with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) that could have been avoided if it had used a term contract rather than the DASNY contract.

Department of State: Implementation of the Security Guard Act (2019-S-42)

The department generally complies with the act’s requirements, having processes in place to ensure only individuals meeting requirements are issued registration cards, and maintaining an accurate registry of security guard applicants. However, the department lacks sufficient internal controls to monitor training requirements for security guards classified as police and peace officers – a classification that includes individuals who are retired. Auditors identified instances where the department inappropriately renewed security guard registrations for security guards with these classifications without evidence that training was completed.

State University of New York Upstate Medical University (Upstate): Human Resource (HR) Practices (Follow-Up) (2021-F-7)

An audit issued in September 2019 found insufficient HR monitoring and oversight, as well as inadequate or poorly enforced policies and procedures, contributed to questionable and weak practices that rendered Upstate vulnerable to misuse of funds and safety and security risks. In a follow-up, auditors found Upstate officials made significant progress in addressing the problems identified in the initial audit, having implemented all four recommendations.

State University of New York Upstate Medical Center: User Access Controls Over Selected System Applications (Follow-Up) (2021-F-8)

An audit issued in June 2020 determined that Upstate’s access controls were not sufficient to prevent unnecessary or inappropriate access to various applications. Upstate employees maintained unnecessary and inappropriate access to applications after a change in their status, such as employment separation or death, and some of these user accounts were logged into during the period of inappropriate active access. In a follow-up, auditors found Upstate made significant progress in addressing the problems identified in the initial audit. Both of the initial report’s recommendations were implemented.

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