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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Health
Selected Employee Travel Expenses


Issued: May 22, 2014
Link to full audit report 2012-S-94
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.

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 monies by selected government employees was appropriate, we audited a total of $588,029 in travel expenses for 17 Department of Health (Department) employees. We selected these employees based primarily on high rental car expenses. One employee was selected because of questionable travel practices the Department had identified associated with this employee.

Key Findings

  • Travel expenses totaling $466,301 for 14 of the 17 Department employees selected for review were appropriate and adhered to State travel rules and regulations. However, for three employees, we identified numerous problems with travel practices and related expenses that we attributed to inadequate Department oversight. Of the $121,727 in travel expenses we examined for the three employees, we found problems with costs totaling $14,870.
  • Specifically, the Department overpaid $3,939 due to errors in applying travel rules and other wasteful spending, and paid $10,931 in travel expenses that were inadequately supported, lacked appropriate approvals or represented misuse of travel cards.
  • The Department also incurred substantial costs for two of the three employees' long-term use of rental vehicles for job-related travel. We concluded that stronger oversight and management of these costs might have saved the Department more than $15,000. For the third employee, we found that mileage reported on the rental car company receipt exceeded expected workrelated mileage by more than 2,000 miles.

Key Recommendations

  • Strengthen oversight of travel expenses to improve the Department's ability to guard against fraud, waste and abuse.
  • Investigate the questionable travel expenses identified in this report and pursue recovery if appropriate.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Department of Labor: Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-75)
Department of Transportation: Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-93)


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