State University of New York at Binghamton

 

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

State University of New York at Binghamton
Selected Employee Travel Expenses


Issued: September 4, 2013
Link to full audit report 2012-S-127
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine whether the use of travel monies by selected government employees complied with rules and regulations and is free from fraud, waste, and abuse. The audit covers the period June 14, 2009 to March 31, 2011.

Background
New York State's agencies spend between $100 million and $150 million each year on travel expenses. These expenses, which are discretionary and under the control of agency management, include lodging, meals, car rentals, transportation, fuel, and incidental costs such as airline baggage and travel agency fees. As part of a statewide audit initiative to determine whether the use of travel money by selected government employees was appropriate, we audited travel expenses for the high cost travelers in the State as well as other outliers. Auditors focused their audit efforts on the highest-cost travelers in the State, each of whom incurred over $100,000 in travel expenses during the three-year audit period, as well as on other outliers. As a result of this analysis, we selected seven State University of New York at Binghamton (University) employees for audit with travel expenditures totaling $839,204; six whose travel expenses exceeded $100,000 and one individual with risk indentified in the area of air fare. However, we were only able to audit the expenses incurred for these seven employees from June 14, 2009 and March 31, 2011 totaling $548,262 because the University, as allowed by New York State record retention policies, had purged documentation prior to June 14, 2009.

Key Findings

  • Most of the travel expenses we examined were appropriate. However, University officials failed to ensure that lodging expenses were within allowable rates in 24 instances allowing a total of $2,258 to be spent in excess of federal per diem lodging rates.
  • University officials also did not enforce OSC and University guidelines requiring travel advances to be repaid on a timely basis. As a result, employees were allowed to pay back $36,880 of unused travel advances in installments long after the ten day accounting and reconciliation requirement.

Key Recommendation

  • Ensure that travelers obtain prior written approval from the finance office to exceed the federal per diem rates for the county of lodging.
  • Ensure that employees comply with the Travel Manual and University guidelines for travel advances.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

SUNY College of Optometry: Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-148)
State University of New York College at Purchase: Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-149)


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236