State University of New York

 

Skip to Content

Login   Subscribe   Site Index   Contact Us   Google Translate™

NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

State University of New York
at Albany
Selected Employee Travel Expenses


Issued: May 07, 2014
Link to full audit report 2012-S-74

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. 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 highest-cost travelers in the State. These travelers incurred over $100,000 in travel expenses during our three-year audit period and/or exhibited unusual travel characteristics. We examined a total of $1.7 million in travel expenses for 10 University at Albany employees. Of the 10 employees, nine had travel expenses that exceeded $100,000 and one individual had unusual travel characteristics in the area of fuel costs.

Key Findings

  • Expenses for nine of the 10 University employees selected for review were appropriate.
  • For a track coach, however, University officials did not enforce Office of State Comptroller and University guidelines limiting travel advance amounts and requiring unspent balances to be returned on a timely basis. The track coach routinely overestimated the amount of advance funds needed for athletic events. As a result, at one point he had over $87,000 in outstanding advances. Also, the coach consistently returned unused advance funds more than 2 months later than required by the University. In fact, University officials allowed this coach to pay back his travel advances in installments – similar to the payback of a loan.
  • The track coach may have violated the Public Officers Law by employing his daughter as a volunteer coach and using State funds to pay for her travel with him and the team to local and national track events.

Key Recommendations

  • Monitor cash advances to ensure compliance with established State and University travel guidelines and procedures and to safeguard assets from fraud, waste and abuse.
  • Establish written guidelines for the hiring and supervision of volunteer coaches to decrease the possibility of, or appearance of, any impropriety.
  • Ensure all University employees are aware of their responsibilities under the Public Officers Law.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

State University of New York College at Cobleskill – Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-143)
State University of New York 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