Environmental Facilities Corporation

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Environmental Facilities Corporation
Monitoring the Green Innovation Grant Program


Issued: June 20, 2018
Link to full audit report 2017-S-19
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine if the Environmental Facilities Corporation (Corporation) is effectively monitoring projects awarded under the Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP), and if grant recipients are substantively completing projects per project agreements and meeting post-construction requirements. The audit covered the period January 1, 2010 through September 20, 2017.

Background
The Corporation is a public benefit corporation whose environmental initiatives extend both financial and technical assistance to municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses, ensuring they meet water and air quality regulations. One program the Corporation administers is the GIGP, which supports projects across New York State that utilize unique stormwater infrastructure design and create cutting-edge green technologies.

Green infrastructure practices treat rainwater as a valuable resource to be harvested and used on site, or filtered and allowed to soak back into the ground, recharging aquifers, rivers, and streams. Green stormwater infrastructure includes a wide array of practices, at multiple scales, that manage wet weather and maintain and restore natural hydrology by harvesting and using stormwater. On a regional scale, green infrastructure is the preservation and restoration of natural landscape features, such as forests, floodplains, and wetlands. On the local scale, green infrastructure consists of site- and neighborhood-specific practices, such as bioretention, trees, green roofs, permeable pavements, and cisterns.

In their grant application, grantees describe how they plan to maintain their project, which the Corporation considers as part of its award process. Once awarded a GIGP grant, grantees must be in compliance with provisions of the Corporation’s grant agreement (Agreement). Among the requirements, grantees must: design the project in accordance with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s New York State Stormwater Management Design Manual; provide the Corporation with site photographs, showing project progression at 30, 60, and 90 percent completion; properly maintain and operate the project; and install informative signs at project sites. According to its Rules and Regulations, the Corporation may conduct reviews and inspections to ensure compliance with the Agreement as well as federal and State requirements. From the GIGP’s inception in 2009 through the end of 2016, the Corporation has awarded $135 million for 167 selected projects representing every region of the State.

Key Findings

  • The Corporation monitors some aspects of the projects by frequent communication with grantees, receiving progress photographs, and reviewing fiscal documentation to monitor project progression.
  • The Corporation’s on-site monitoring of the projects we sampled frequently occurred later in the construction cycle than the Corporation’s goal of between 50 and 75 percent completion. Also, the Corporation does not perform site visits after project completion to determine if the grantee is properly maintaining the project and has installed the required signage.
  • Our site visits to a sample of 16 projects found that five grantees were not consistently maintaining their project, thereby weakening the effect of the project, and three grantees did not comply with the requirement to install interpretive signs for the project. Additionally, several grantees did not measure project performance consistent with the practices they described in
    their grant applications.

Key Recommendations

  • Implement steps to increase the completion of site visits made during the 50 to 75 percent completion window.
  • Develop and implement a plan for post-construction monitoring of grantees’ compliance with requirements for project maintenance, signage, and, when applicable, performance monitoring consistent with their grant application. Such monitoring should be performed for at least a sample of projects, based on factors determined by the Corporation, and consider the use of various methods such as site visits and review of grantee documentation.
  • Remind grantees of their responsibility to maintain their projects, install signs, and monitor project performance consistent with their grant application.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest
None


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Stephen Goss
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