A report from the New York State Comptroller found that the state’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) did not sufficiently manage its vehicle fleet. The office failed to maintain sufficient vehicle logs, allowed a supervisor to choose surplus vehicles and sell them to his immediate family, and lost track of a fleet vehicle.
OPWDD is responsible for coordinating services for more than 130,000 New Yorkers across the state with developmental disabilities. This includes transporting clients from OPWDD-run residences to service providers or medical appointments using more than 3,000 state-owned vehicles. In the New York City region — the focus of this audit — OPWDD is responsible for 115 state-run residences overseen by four local Developmental Disabilities Services Offices (DDSOs), which utilize a fleet of 484 fleet vehicles.
The State Comptroller’s office found that all four DDSOs had a significant number of missing or incomplete vehicle logs, including logs for vehicles used by high-ranking staff. Of the 90 vehicle logs requested during a three-month period, only 71 logs were provided. Of the 1,585 trips logged in this time period, few listed the trip purpose or starting location and none listed the occupants in the vehicle. The report commends that all DDSOs maintain complete vehicle logs for all vehicles to ensure these vehicles are used solely for state business.
Due to poor monitoring, one office lost track of a fleet vehicle. According to the agency’s fleet software, the 2000-MY full-size van was last inspected in 2011, and its license plate was reported missing in 2015, but the vehicle was never re-registered in New York. Officials could not rule out that this vehicle was stolen. The report recommends that the office issues guidelines that require DDSOs to conduct periodic inventories to account for their vehicles.
Surplus vehicles were another focus of the report. In another office, five surplus vehicles (chosen for surplus by a supervisor) were sold to the same supervisor or a member of his immediate family. In addition, OPWDD did not ensure license plates for surplus vehicles were promptly returned to the state’s Office of General Services or Department of Motor Vehicles. The report recommended that OPWDD establish surplus policies and procedures that address these deficiencies.
The report also found that many fleet vehicles were underutilized. 31% of vehicles with vehicle logs were used an average of five days or fewer per month, and six vehicles were not driven at all in one month.
In response to the report, OPWDD implemented a statewide vehicle log that requires a standardized review protocol to ensure proper documentation is kept. The agency will follow up on prior vehicle log discrepancies and is in the process of drafting new statewide protocols for conducting inventories and plans to create a policy that prohibits employees from purchasing surplus vehicles. In addition, the agency investigated the missing vehicle and determined it was moved to a different DDSO for use by the maintenance department.
Read the full audit here.