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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Transportation
Collection of Special Hauling and Divisible Load Overweight Permit Fees


Issued: April 15, 2015
Link to full audit report 2014-S-52
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine whether the Department of Transportation (Department) charged and collected the correct fees for special hauling and divisible load overweight permits. This audit covers the period April 1, 2012 through February 5, 2015.

Background
The Department is responsible for regulating the movement of oversize and overweight vehicles and loads on the State highway system through a permitting process that helps maintain highway safety and protect the integrity and reliability of roads and bridges. A special hauling permit is generally used to move a single piece of equipment or other item that exceeds legal dimensions for the highway but cannot be broken down into smaller shipments. Special hauling permits are issued by both the Central Permits Bureau (Bureau) and the regional offices. In contrast, a divisible load is any cargo that can be separated into units of legal weight without affecting the physical integrity of the load, such as sand, soil, or gravel. Divisible load overweight permits are only issued by the Bureau. Collectively, these permits help ensure a safe and efficient transportation system for the traveling public, and protect the integrity and reliability of the State’s highways and bridges. For the period April 1, 2012 through September 30, 2014, Department records indicate the Bureau issued about 75,000 divisible load overweight permits valued at approximately $40 million as well as about 229,000 special hauling permits totaling approximately $13 million. For the same period, the regional offices issued about 31,000 special hauling permits, with reported fees totaling about $3 million.

Key Findings

  • Although the Department accurately charged and collected the correct fee for each transaction we tested, we found significant and pervasive weaknesses in internal control at the regional office level that decrease assurance that all permits are appropriately recorded and the correct fees are collected and deposited. These deficiencies include poor accountability for permits issued and fees collected, a lack of segregation of duties for permit transactions, and minimal oversight by both the central and regional offices.
  • Several regional offices are also at increased risk because they have devised systems to informally hold supplies of pre-signed checks provided by select repeat customers in an effort to make their application experiences easier and faster.

Key Recommendations

  • Improve internal controls over permits issued by regional offices by separating key duties and functions, improving accountability over all permits, and increasing oversight over permit transactions.
  • Explore additional options for payments made at the regional level so as to eliminate responsibility for pre-signed checks submitted by select customers.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest

Department of Transportation: Oversight of Revenue Contracts and Fees (2009-S-14)


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