New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner
Office of Public Information
For immediate release:
Monday November 8, 1999
Commissioner Goord cites audit shortcomings; lauds crime-fighting successes of DOCS Inspector General
Commissioner Glenn S. Goord today disagreed with findings of auditors from the Office of the State Comptroller in a report issued on the DOCS Office of the Inspector General.
Commissioner Goord said, "Audits by their nature focus only upon the shortcomings as perceived by auditors. Not only do I disagree with some of their findings, but I find it unfortunate that they could not find a place for even one paragraph to note the crime-fighting successes of these exceptional state employees."
Commissioner Goord noted that, before Governor Pataki took office, there were as many as 4,930 absconders from work release programs in a year, many of whom were allegedly committing violent crimes against the people of New York state. Governor Pataki issued Executive Order Number 5 in 1995, barring felons convicted of violent acts from participating in work release. Since then, through the efforts of the DOCS Office of the Inspector General, the number of absconders now stands at approximately 450 - the fewest in more than a decade. The number of violent crimes allegedly committed by work release participants/absconders has been reduced by 92 percent, from 1,936 in 1994 to 26 in 1998.
"We all know that there is no 'silver bullet' to combat crime," Commissioner Goord noted. "But New York's record reduction in crime is in large part the result of Governor George Pataki's multi-faceted approach to battling crime. Those approaches included barring violent offenders from work release programs. That, plus the exceptional efforts of the DOCS Inspector General's Office in recapturing absconders, have taken violent offenders off our streets where they can no longer prey upon our citizens in their homes and in their communities. Members of the DOCS Inspector General's Office should be complimented for the way they risk their lives each and every day to get these offenders off our streets, and contribute to the record reduction in crime across the state.
"I welcome and appreciate Comptroller H. Carl McCall's important role in ensuring the proper expenditure of taxpayer funds," Commissioner Goord said. "That includes an auditing function to confirm the best standards and policies are in place. I understand his role and consider it a pivotal one. Unfortunately, auditors sometimes suffer from tunnel vision: they do not place their findings in perspective or give fair credit to the overall effectiveness of, and the public service performed by, the entities that they scrutinize."
In a detailed, 37-page response to the audit, Commissioner Goord disagreed with several findings after documenting that auditors had:
- Altered the period that the audit covered. The original draft audit dated May 1998 covered the two fiscal years ending on March 31, 1997. The revised draft audit dated March 1999 (addressed in this response) covers April 1996 through August 31, 1997 - even though no substantial data in the revised draft audit appears to cover any period after March 31, 1997.
- Questioned in their original draft audit 10 accidents necessitating $18,000 in repairs to state motor vehicles. The revised audit, without explanation, reduces the number of accidents questioned to eight, but revises the amount of damages upward to $19,000.
- Utilized EZ Pass records as a major tool in tracking employee hours - despite being informed EZ Passes are transferred among vehicles and therefore were not an accurate measure of employee time worked.
- Criticized the Department's use of Correction Officers, who have a minimum hiring requirement of a high school degree, as investigators - ignoring their combined 60,000 hours of Department and Inspector General training, 1,391 years of DOCS experience, 528 years of experience in the DOCS' Inspector General's office and more than a century of college education.
- Criticized the DOCS' Inspector General for lax timekeeping controls - citing as an example an employee who could not document .000481 percent of his time over a 340-work day period.
- Criticized the use of a New York City employee to transport documents to Albany - and then later criticized the DOCS' Inspector General for the underutilization of couriers and the overuse of express mail services.
- Repeatedly criticized the DOCS' Inspector General's Office for not having implemented auditors' recommendations from a 1990 audit - ignoring the fact that they were told in 1990 that DOCS disagreed with those recommendations and was exercising its option not to implement them.
- Criticized staff for accidents with state vehicles while the employees were allegedly off-duty - ignoring the fact the employees were on-call, entitled to state transport and were directly en route either to their homes, offices or other work sites when the accidents occurred.
- Criticized brake jobs as being excessive because they were being performed after as much as 17,412 miles - while other law enforcement agencies routinely mandate the same work every 5,000 miles.
- Criticized the DOCS Inspector General for not maintaining full inventories of computer equipment stored in a locked basement storage area - even after auditors were advised the storage room was a transfer station used by individual prisons who maintained totally accurate records of what they stored there, awaiting shipment by them to other prisons.
- Criticized investigators for not obtaining receipts from "street snitches" to ensure such confidential cash funds were being properly expended. Auditors were advised that an informal DOCS poll showed that none of its "street snitches" were known to carry receipt books on a regular basis.