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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

State University of New York
Compliance With the Clery Act


Issued: August 22, 2014
Link to full audit report 2013-S-70
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine whether the State University of New York's (SUNY) 29 State-operated colleges accurately reported crime statistics and published other relevant security and safety-related information required by the Clery Act, and whether SUNY's System Administration provided the colleges with sufficient Clery Act-related guidance and training. The audit covered the crime reporting component for calendar year 2012.

Background
Security on the college campus has long been an important issue for students and their families. To address this concern, in 1990, Congress enacted the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to disclose crime statistics and security policies to help the public make informed decisions when choosing a college for educational or employment purposes.

The Clery Act requires all public and private colleges participating in federal Title IV student financial aid programs to prepare and publish an Annual Security Report (ASR) disclosing information about college safety policies and procedures and crime statistics for the three most recent calendar years, based on definitions from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook. Additionally, colleges are required to submit crime statistics to the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) annually.

SUNY, the largest public university system in the United States, consists of 29 State-operated colleges, 30 community colleges, and five statutory colleges (affiliated with private universities) located throughout the State and a central administrative office located in Albany (System Administration). During the fall 2012 semester, SUNY's 29 State-operated colleges provided higher education to more than 180,000 undergraduate students.

In a 2008 audit (Report 2007-S-121), the Office of the State Comptroller examined SUNY's compliance with the Clery Act.

Key Findings

  • SUNY's System Administration and the 29 State-operated colleges have improved their compliance with the Clery Act since our previous report; however, problems still exist at certain colleges, which could affect the public's ability to accurately assess college safety and security and make valid comparisons among colleges.
  • Three of four colleges we visited published inaccurate crime statistics on their ASRs. This included both underreporting and overreporting crime/violation information and disciplinary action referrals.
  • Thirteen of SUNY's 29 State-operated colleges improperly reported crime statistics to DoE, and 19 published ASRs with missing and/or incomplete policy and procedure statements. Non-compliance with the reporting requirements could result in DoE-imposed civil fines and suspension from financial aid programs.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop strategies to enhance compliance with the Clery Act.
  • Investigate and correct errors and discrepancies in the ASR and DoE statistics identified in this report to ensure compliance with the Clery Act.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

State University of New York: Compliance With the Clery Act (2007-S-121)
State University of New York: Compliance With the Clery Act (2009-F-46)


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Andrea Inman
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