Office of Victim Services

 

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Office of Victim Services
Controls Over Selected Expenditures


Issued: September 4, 2018
Link to full audit report 2017-S-72
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine if the Office of Victim Services' (OVS) internal controls ensure that expenditures are made only to eligible victims and for eligible victim services. The audit covers the period January 1, 2016 to May 10, 2018.

Background
OVS’ mission is to provide compensation to innocent victims of crime and their families in a timely, efficient, and compassionate manner; to fund direct services to crime victims through a network of community-based Victim Assistance Programs (VAPs); and to advocate for the rights and benefits of all innocent crime victims. OVS is led by a Director who is appointed by the Governor. A 20-member advisory council assists in forming policies addressing the problems of crime victims and provides recommendations to the Director to improve service delivery to victims.

Eligible claimants must generally be either an innocent crime victim or a dependent relative, and must report the crime within one week; file a claim within one year of the crime; and cooperate with police, the district attorney’s office, and OVS. OVS also assists sexual assault survivors by directly reimbursing licensed providers for forensic rape examination (FRE) services. In addition to these services, OVS awards grants to VAPs that serve crime victims. OVS is a payer of last resort, and therefore claimants must exhaust all other sources of compensation before it pays for their crime-related losses. Covered items may include medical expenses, replacement of stolen items, and lost earnings.

OVS receives State funding from the Criminal Justice Improvement Account and receives federal funding for compensation and grants from the Crime Victims Fund, which was established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984. During the State fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, OVS awarded 223 grants totaling $45.5 million to 169 VAPs; paid $22.5 million for 13,033 claims covering personal injury, death, essential personal property, and FRE claims; and approved $823,267 for 415 emergency awards. OVS has about 80 employees at its offices in Albany and Brooklyn.

Key Findings

  • OVS’ internal controls generally ensure that its expenditures for crime victim compensation claims, FRE exams, and VAP grants were made only to eligible victims and for eligible victim services.
  • We identified minor discrepancies in OVS’ verification of FRE provider licenses. In response, officials stated they have begun to develop a risk-based approach to verify and validate provider licenses on submitted FRE claims.

Key Recommendation

  • Implement a risk-based approach to verify and validate provider licenses on submitted claims.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Division of Criminal Justice Services: Hate Crime Reporting (2013-S-67)
State Education Department/Division of State Police: Compliance With the Enough is Enough Act (2017-S-38)


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