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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

New York State Homes and Community Renewal
Selected Employee Travel Expenses


Issued: June 05, 2014
Link to full audit report 2012-S-99
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 October 31, 2012.

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 $192,215 in travel expenses for five New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) employees. We selected these employees because their rental car expenses ranked among the highest in the State.

Key Findings

  • Travel expenses totaling $112,233 for three of the five HCR employees selected for review were appropriate and adhered to State travel rules and regulations. However, we identified unnecessary and questionable travel expenses totaling $12,446 for two employees. The travel reimbursements for these two employees may have potential tax implications.
  • HCR officials could not provide documentation to support hours worked by one other employee. This employee routinely picked up rental cars late in the morning; however, officials could not account for the hours the employee purportedly worked prior to pickup of the rental car. The employee received wages totaling $12,834 for 378 hours of work that we could not verify.

Key Recommendation

  • Investigate the questionable travel expenses and wages identified in this report and pursue recovery if appropriate.
  • Strengthen oversight of travel expenses to improve the Department's ability to guard against fraud, waste, and abuse.
  • Discontinue the practice of reimbursing employees for their commuting costs.
  • Work with the Comptroller's Division of Payroll, Accounting and Revenue Services to take any necessary corrective action related to the potential taxable status of the two employees' commuting expenses.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

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