To determine the extent of implementation of the 11 recommendations included in our initial audit report, Selected Aspects of Parking Violations Operations to Collect Fines and Fees (Report 2017-N-8).
About the Program
The New York City Department of Finance (DOF) processes summonses issued to vehicles for parking, red light camera, and sanitation violations. In addition, DOF collects parking fines from diplomats under a Memorandum of Understanding between New York City and the U.S. Department of State. For a non-diplomatic plate, when a summons is issued, vehicle owners must respond within 30 days. They can either pay the fine or challenge the summons by requesting that the matter be heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) either in person, using an Internet application, or by mail. If found guilty by an ALJ, the vehicle owner is responsible for paying all late fees in addition to the fines. Almost 3.2 million summonses were adjudicated between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2020, consisting of: 528,545 in-person hearings, 899,021 hearings by mail, and 1,771,868 online hearings.
For vehicle owners who neither request a hearing nor pay the fine after 90 days, DOF will seek a default judgment, which remains in effect for 8 years. If an unpaid summons is not entered into judgment within 2 years and 7 days after the issue date, it is written off (eliminated from the books of account). One reason that summonses are not entered into judgment is out-of-state plates.
DOF’s Collections Division is responsible for collecting all summonses that are in judgment. The Collections Division includes the Parking and Environmental Control Board Compliance Unit (Compliance Unit) and the Outside Collection Agency/External Inquiry Unit (External Inquiry Unit). The Compliance Unit works to collect the amounts due on parking cases with the highest probability of collection, such as summonses issued to vehicles leased from a car rental company.
DOF’s Computer Assisted Collection System automatically assigns parking cases to in-house staff or to outside collection agencies (OCA) using a dollar threshold of $350, with the cases with the highest probability of collection going to in-house staff. Small-dollar cases are the responsibility of the External Inquiry Unit, which assigns these cases to either its primary or secondary OCA.
DOF provided us with a file of all summonses issued from December 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021. During this time period, 20,849,816 summonses were issued with a balance of $444,471,070.
We issued our initial audit report on December 4, 2019. The audit objective was to determine whether DOF identifies and collects fines and fees that are due for parking violations. Specifically, the audit found that parking summonses sent to collection agencies were not closely monitored to ensure the amounts had been collected; DOF expended minimal effort to collect amounts due for summonses issued to vehicles with diplomatic plates; and many summonses were dismissed as defective due to errors that occurred when the summonses were issued.
DOF officials made progress in addressing the problems we identified in our initial audit report. Of the initial report’s 11 audit recommendations, four were implemented, six were partially implemented, and one was not implemented.
Officials are given 30 days after the issuance of this follow-up to provide information on any actions that are planned to address the unresolved issues discussed in this report.
State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236