Office for People With Developmental Disabilities


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NYS Comptroller


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Office for People With Developmental Disabilities
Oversight of Passenger Safety

Issued: October 1, 2018
Link to full audit report 2017-S-50

To determine whether the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) ensures that its vehicles are being operated safely by employees with valid driver licenses. The audit covers New York City OPWDD facilities during the period of April 1, 2015 through June 26, 2018.

OPWDD works to help people with developmental disabilities live richer lives. Services provided by OPWDD include long-term care and residential supports and services, primarily in community settings. Regional Developmental Disabilities State Operations Offices (DDSOOs) administer and oversee State operations for OPWDD, including the direct delivery of services to people with developmental disabilities by State staff. These services include transporting clients from OPWDD-run residences to service providers or medical appointments. OPWDD staff use the agency’s more than 3,000 State-owned vehicles as well as hired contractors to transport individuals who live in OPWDD-run residences.

In the New York City region, there are 115 such residences overseen by four local Developmental Disabilities Services Offices (DDSOs): Metro NY (Bronx and Manhattan), Brooklyn, Bernard M. Fineson (Queens), and Staten Island. According to OPWDD, about 450 vehicles are assigned to the four DDSOs, and residences are assigned one or two vehicles, depending on the number of clients.

OPWDD participates in the Department of Motor Vehicles License Event Notification Service (LENS), an automated reporting system that notifies organizations of driver-related events, such as the expiration and renewal of driver licenses; the suspension, revocation, and restoration of driver licenses; traffic convictions; and reportable accidents.

Key Findings

  • Because OPWDD drivers repeatedly failed to obey traffic rules, many vehicles assigned to transport OPWDD’s vulnerable clients were issued violations for serious traffic infractions, such as running red lights and speeding through school zones.
  • OPWDD does not analyze traffic violations to identify whether employees need training or counseling, or if they should be reassigned.
  • DDSOs are not properly monitoring LENS reports to identify drivers whose licenses have been suspended. We identified seven employees who continued to drive OPWDD vehicles assigned to transport clients, despite having suspended driver licenses.
  • OPWDD has not provided the DDSOs with guidance on how to address the payment and recoupment of fines, penalties, and interest resulting from violations. As a result, fines are often not paid timely, while OPWDD continues to incur penalties and interest. Furthermore, most of the $200,000 in fines, interest, and penalties paid by OPWDD for violations incurred by its drivers had not been recouped from the employees responsible, leaving the State to bear the burden.
  • Repairs related to manufacturer recalls are not being done timely, or at all.

Key Recommendations

  • Analyze traffic violations and driving histories to identify whether employees need training or counseling, or if they should be reassigned.
  • Establish procedures to identify employees responsible for traffic violations so that fines are paid timely and/or can be recouped. Ensure that the fines, penalties, and interest identified in this report are collected from employees, as warranted.
  • Monitor LENS reports to ensure employees maintain valid driver licenses, and strengthen the monitoring process to ensure employees with suspended licenses do not drive OPWDD vehicles.
  • Ensure recall repairs are done timely and maintain supporting documentation of the repairs.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

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