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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Office of Court Administration
Selected Employee Travel Expenses


Issued: September 04, 2013
Link to full audit report 2012-S-96
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 April 1, 2008 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. The Unified Court System (UCS) spent $17,003,393 on travel expenses from April 1, 2008 through March 31, 2011. Of that amount, about $3,482,478 (20 percent) was for charges on State-issued travel cards, and $13,520,915 (80 percent), was for reimbursement to employees for travel expenses not charged to a travel card.

This audit is part of a statewide initiative 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. 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 ended March 31, 2011, as well as on other outliers. As a result of this analysis, we examined the travel costs of one employee whose travel costs totaled $115,797. 

Key Findings

  • We found that while the travel expenses for the one employee were supported, they need to be further reviewed to determine whether Internal Revenue Service "tax home" rules may apply and may result in taxable income.
  • In addition, Judicial Travel Rules were sometimes not complied with.

Key Recommendations

  • Work with the Comptroller's Division of Payroll, Accounting and Revenue Services to ensure that any necessary corrective action related to the potential taxable status of the employee's travel expense reimbursements is taken.
  • Follow Judicial Travel Rules to ensure relevant apartment lease approvals and rental agreements are in effect.
  • Ensure that reimbursements for rental payments are made after the employee makes payment.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Department of Labor: Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-75)


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