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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

City University of New York
Selected Employee Travel Expenses


Issued: February 25, 2014
Link to full audit report 2012-S-98

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 covered the period April 1, 2008 through 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 highest-cost travelers in the State. These travelers incurred over $100,000 in travel expenses during our three-year audit period. We examined charges made to one City University of New York (CUNY) employee's travel card totaling $125,410. We found that this employee was the Fleet Manager, responsible for administering CUNY's Central Office vehicle fleet. Each CUNY employee assigned a vehicle has an individual E-ZPass account, and these accounts are replenished using the Fleet Manager's travel card. Out of the total $125,410 charged to the Fleet Manager's travel card for the three-year audit period, $114,351 was expended to replenish E-ZPass accounts, while $11,059 was expended for car rental and other charges. Most of the Fleet Manager's travel card expenses were for expenses related to the 31 fleet vehicles assigned to CUNY Central Office employees (mostly Vice Chancellors).

Key Findings

Most of the $125,410 in travel expenses we examined was appropriate. However, we identified several areas in which CUNY could strengthen controls:

  • CUNY employees assigned official vehicles did not reimburse CUNY for all toll charges incurred for personal trips. The personal use of vehicles is self-reported by employees, with employees reimbursing CUNY for personal toll charges after reviewing their monthly E-ZPass statements.
  • We judgmentally selected 23 employees who made weekend trips with their assigned vehicles to determine whether the trips were business-related. Of the 313 weekend trips we reviewed, there was no support of a business purpose for 267 of these trips.
  • CUNY is responsible for accurately reporting employees' imputed income that is derived from the personal use of assigned vehicles. However, CUNY does not have an accurate means of verifying personal use mileage and therefore the accuracy of the imputed mileage reported on employees' W-2 forms from calendar years 2008 through 2011 is questionable.

Key Recommendation

  • Improve the control environment over the use of E-ZPass tags so that all the toll charges for personal trips are identified for reimbursement.
  • Ensure that the mileage for all non-business use of official vehicles is imputed and reported appropriately.

Link to full audit report (2012-S-98)

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

City University of New York Kingsborough Community College: Selected Financial Management Practices (2008-N-9)


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