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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of State
Monitoring of Not-for-Profit Cemeteries for Fiscal Stability and Adequate Facility Maintenance (Follow-Up)


Issued: December 27, 2018
Link to full audit report 2018-F-22

Purpose
To determine the extent of implementation of the four recommendations included in our initial audit report, Monitoring of Not-for-Profit Cemeteries for Fiscal Stability and Adequate Facility Maintenance (2016-S-79).

Background
The Department of State’s (Department) Division of Cemeteries (Division) oversees the establishment, maintenance, and preservation of burial grounds for all not-for-profit cemetery corporations (cemeteries) in New York State. As authorized by Article 15 of the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law (Law), and under the supervision of the State’s Cemetery Board (Board), the Division works with cemetery officials on a wide range of issues, including the sale of lots, service fees, and acquisition of lands, to promote public welfare and to prevent cemeteries from falling into disrepair or insolvency.   

Our initial audit report, which was issued on July 11, 2017, found that:

  • As of September 30, 2016, Division records indicate 642 cemeteries (37 percent) had overdue audits and 285 (16 percent) had delinquent annual reports. For 145 cemeteries (8 percent), audits were overdue and annual reports were delinquent as well.
  • As of December 1, 2016, 391 cemeteries (22 percent) had not been inspected in over seven years.
  • Weaknesses in data integrity, entry, and access pose challenges in terms of data reliability and the Mainframe’s usefulness as a risk assessment tool. Therefore, it is not feasible for the Division to broadly and routinely analyze the fiscal health of all 1,745 cemeteries under its jurisdiction. As a result, it cannot use the information to best focus its attention on locations that are in danger of failing.
  • Our analysis of the fiscal condition of 64 cemeteries using two measures developed by the Division found Permanent Maintenance Funds at 37 locations to be underfunded by a median of at least $25,500.
  • All 71 cemeteries we visited appeared well maintained, but 38 (54 percent) did not have all the proper information posted for visitors, as required.
  • The Division has not updated its internal policies and procedures or its manuals for cemeteries to reflect the latest laws and regulations. As such, it has limited assurance that staff are monitoring cemeteries properly and consistently.

Key Finding
Department officials have made some progress in addressing the problems we identified in the initial audit report. Of the four prior report recommendations, two were implemented and two were partially implemented.

Key Recommendation
Officials are given 30 days after the issuance of the follow-up review to provide information on any actions that are planned to address the unresolved issues discussed in this review.  

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest
Department of State: Monitoring of Not-for-Profit Cemeteries for Fiscal Stability and Adequate Facility Maintenance (2016-S-79)


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