Department of Correctional Services

Food Production Center: Violations of Law, Conflicts of Interest and Other Improprieties

The Department of Correctional Services’ Food Production Center, which is located on the grounds of the Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, New York, is a state-of-the-art facility designed to provide food and drink on a daily basis to inmates of State and local prisons. In a joint audit/investigation conducted with the State Inspector General’s Office, we found apparent ethical violations regarding purchases from favored vendors by Howard Dean, the former Director of the Food Production Center, and his staff. For example, favored vendors paid for dinners for Mr. Dean and his staff, and were solicited for donations for annual picnics and Christmas parties which Department employees attended for free. In return, these same favored vendors were provided with millions of dollars in State business each year, most of which was procured in violation of the State Finance Law (e.g., without open competition).

We found that there was an absence of appropriate management oversight, and we questioned whether the apparent unethical activities were condoned by Department management at the highest levels. The Office of the State Comptroller and the State Inspector General’s Office provided the findings contained in this report to the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office, for possible criminal charges, and the Commission on Public Integrity, for consideration of potential action. We also recommended improvements in the management controls at the Department of Correctional Services.

For a complete copy of Report 2009-S-6 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.