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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

City University of New York
York College: Time and Attendance Practices for Public Safety Staff


Issued: April 06, 2015
Link to full audit report 2013-S-65

Purpose
To determine whether York College had adequate controls over the time and attendance of Public Safety employees to provide reasonable assurance that they worked the hours for which they were compensated. The audit covered the period from January 1, 2012 to May 31, 2014.

Background
The City University of New York (CUNY) consists of 11 senior colleges, 6 community colleges, and several other specialized and professional schools, and has a total enrollment of about 460,000 students. CUNY’s Central Administration (CUNY Central) provides general oversight of CUNY operations and is responsible for monitoring academic development and other activities at the individual colleges. Each college is responsible for complying with governing laws, regulations, policies, and guidelines.

York College (York) is a senior CUNY college located in Jamaica, Queens. York enrolls over 8,242 students in liberal arts, career, and professional programs on its 50-acre campus, which comprises eight buildings. York’s Department of Public Safety (Department) is responsible for the enforcement of all college rules, as well as State and local laws, throughout the eight buildings. The Department consists of a director, campus Public Safety officers, and campus security assistants. The Department’s security staff is augmented by contract security officers. In 2013, the Department had 42 Public Safety employees and the annual cost for Public Safety staff (including outside contractors) was about $2,071,000. Overtime pay accounted for $330,500 (16 percent) of the total payroll cost.

Key Findings

  • Neither CUNY Central nor York had adequate internal controls over time and attendance for Public Safety officers. No one was responsible for verifying the hours worked by Department staff, and officers could alter time cards by writing over time stamps from punch clocks.
  • The Department’s current overtime process could result in the payment of unauthorized and/or excessive overtime costs. Department scheduling practices – specifically the staffing of an overnight fire watch shift on an overtime basis rather than as a regular shift – resulted in significant amounts of overtime for certain employees. York could have saved about $40,500 by assigning the fire watch as a regular shift, either to junior staff or to a contracted security officer, at straight pay rather than overtime rates.
  • Video from surveillance cameras indicated that a sergeant was paid overtime for hours that he did not actually work. Per the video footage, another officer (not the sergeant) actually worked a fire watch post assigned to the sergeant. Also, on three other nights, security officers assigned to the fire watch spent long periods of time in one area instead of patrolling the entire building, as otherwise required. One officer turned off the light, sat in a reclined position, and remained motionless for nearly five hours.

Key Recommendations

To CUNY Central:

  • Develop and implement formal comprehensive policies and procedures for Public Safety officer timekeeping and overtime at the colleges and provide oversight to ensure compliance with such policies and procedures.

To York College:

  • Develop and implement formal comprehensive policies and procedures for Public Safety officer timekeeping, including time card signatures and controls to ensure that time card stamps and any hand-written alterations are valid. Actively monitor compliance with such policies and procedures.
  • Prepare an overtime budget for the Department, and compare budgeted and actual overtime. Ensure that the Department plans its overtime needs based on efficient use of all staff and that every officer has an equal opportunity to work overtime.
  • Minimize overtime costs by establishing regular shifts or using contracted officers in cases where the shifts are anticipated for an extended period.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

City University of New York: Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-98)
Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Metro-North Railroad: Overtime and Other Time and Attendance Matters Found in the Use of Certain Federal Funds (2012-S-104)


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Frank Patone
Phone: (212) 417-5200; 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