New York State Thruway Authority


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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

New York State Thruway Authority
Selected Aspects of Discretionary Spending

Issued: September 29, 2014
Link to full audit report 2012-S-156
Link to 90-day response

To determine whether the New York State Thruway Authority discretionary spending complied with Authority guidelines and was reasonable, adequately supported and properly approved. Our audit covers the period from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2012.

The Authority was created in 1950 by Article 2, Title 9 of the New York State Public Authorities Law for the purpose of financing, constructing, reconstructing, improving, developing, maintaining, and operating a highway system known as the Thruway. The Authority strives to provide its customers with a roadway that is safely drivable at a reasonable speed under the given weather conditions. Since 1992, the Authority has also been responsible for the State’s canal system, which is maintained and operated by its subsidiary, the Canal Corporation. The Authority is governed by a board of seven directors. To accomplish its mission, the Authority incurs direct costs for specific program purposes and it incurs indirect or “discretionary costs” that support overall objectives.

Key Findings

Authority policy permits employee recognition and service awards.  While such policy fosters employee morale, the policy should provide guidance as to reasonable amounts for such expenses. We question the following ten payments totaling $14,814 as it is unclear how the authority determined the reasonableness of the expenses. 

  • Eight payments totaling $9,457 for various employee recognition events, including almost $8,000 for an employee appreciation/holiday dinner.
  • Two payments totaling $5,100 for food provided at staff conferences, including $3,630 spent on food at one two-day staff conference.

Key Recommendation

  • Examine written policies and procedures to determine if they provide adequate guidance related to the reasonableness of expenses.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Battery Park City Authority Selected Aspects of Discretionary Spending (2012-S-158)
State University Construction Fund: Selected Aspects of Discretionary Spending (2013-S-14)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236