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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Department of Health (Department)
Examination of Travel Expenses
(Issued: 03/20/2019)


Purpose

The objective of our examination was to determine if the travel expenses claimed by a Department employee during the period of February 23, 2012 through December 31, 2017 were appropriate and made in accordance with the State’s travel rules and regulations.


Background

State employees are eligible for reimbursement of actual, reasonable, necessary expenses for official business travel.  State employees submit Travel and Expense reports (expense reports) to account for travel expenses.  The New York State Finance Law requires employees to certify each travel expense report is just, true and correct and the balance is due and owing.  During the period of our examination, the Department employee certified 820 expense reports that accounted for $164,606 in travel expenses.


Key Findings

We found $9,760 of the employee’s expenses were not appropriate.  This includes lodging, meal, and fuel expenses for which there was no business purpose, meal allowance expenses the employee was not entitled to receive, meal per diem expenses that exceeded the maximum allowable rates, and inflated transportation reimbursements.

We also found the employee incurred $37,795 in questionable travel expenses.  This includes: (i) $19,978 in excessive personal mileage reimbursements; (ii) $10,225 in expenses for which we question the employee’s business purpose; (iii) $6,216 in rental vehicle expenses for which the employee did not provide justification or evidence to support the business need for the rental; (iv) $706 in meal allowances for which we could not determine if the employee was eligible to claim; (v) $418 in fuel expenses for which we could not determine if the employee had a rental vehicle at the time of the purchases; and (vi) $252 in expenses for which we could not determine the appropriateness of the expenses based on travel dates and locations the employee entered on expense reports.

Finally, we found the employee’s supervisor did not effectively monitor the employee’s travel expenses.  As a result, the employee filed his expense reports late 59 percent of the time and routinely accounted for a single travel event on multiple expense reports.


Key Recommendations

  • Review the $9,760 in inappropriate travel expenses incurred by the employee and recover as appropriate.
  • Review the $37,795 in questionable travel expenses to determine the appropriateness of those expenses.  For expenses deemed inappropriate, recover as appropriate.
  • Ensure employees submit expense reports within 30 days from the end of travel.
  • Train supervisory staff on how to properly review expense reports prior to approving and submitting them for payment.


For a complete copy of Report 2017-BSE01-02, click here.


Division of Contracts and Expenditures
Bernard J. McHugh, Director of State Expenditures

Phone: (518) 474-4868 Email: stexpend@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Contracts and Expenditures
110 State Street, 10th Floor; Albany, NY 12236