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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Labor
Selected Employee Travel Expenses


Issued: June 04, 2013
Link to full audit report 2012-S-75

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.

Background
New York State's executive 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 car rentals, meals, lodging, transportation, fuel, and incidental costs such as airline baggage and travel agency fees. The Department of Labor (Department) spent $6.7 million on travel expenses from April 1, 2008 through March 31, 2011. Of that amount, $6.3 million was for reimbursements to employees for travel expenses and direct payments to vendors. The other $400,000 related to charges on State-issued travel cards. 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 period, as well as on other outliers. As a result of this analysis, we examined the travel costs of one Albany-based Department employee whose long-term assignment to a New York City work location resulted in travel costs exceeding $100,000. In total, we examined $156,124 in travel costs associated with this employee's assignment.

Key Findings

  • There was a lack of contemporaneous documentation to establish whether the official station of the selected employee was in the best interest of the State.
  • The Department may also have incorrectly failed to report taxable travel expenses to Federal and State taxing authorities for the two calendar years 2010 and 2011. We have referred this matter to the Comptroller's Division of Payroll, Accounting and Revenue Services to work with the Department to take any corrective action needed.

Key Recommendations

  • Ensure that each employee's official station is established in compliance with State travel rules and is in the best interest of the State.
  • Ensure that each employee's tax home is properly determined in compliance with law and regulation. Where appropriate, adjust withholdings and revise or amend prior year tax information reported to the employee and third parties, such as the Internal Revenue Service.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

SUNY College at Cobleskill: Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-143)
SUNY College at Oneonta: Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-145)


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