Skip to content

NYS Comptroller to audit SUNY Research Foundation

June 11, 2011

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced that his office is auditing the Research Foundation of the State University of New York and will examine various issues, the comptroller’s office said, including potential conflicts of interest, hiring and compensation as well as issues raised in previous audits.

Dennis Tompkins, DiNapoli’s communications director, said when the Research Foundation was formed in 1977, the comptroller was given the “authority to audit the Foundation” and has done so periodically. Tompkins said the office has also received numerous reports “about some potential wrongdoing at the Foundation,” including concerns about possible abuse of hiring practices and payroll.

Peter Taubkin, spokesperson for the Research Foundation, said the announcement is “in response to a request by SUNY seeking the assistance of OSC to audit certain activities of or relating to the Research Foundation.”

Tompkins said the “comptroller is committed to making sure that the Foundation is being run ethically” and is being held accountable to the taxpayers.

One of the institution’s previous audits includes one published in 2005, which examined a sample of “administrative and discretionary costs” from July 2001 to the end of December 2003.

According to the report from the comptroller’s office, auditors found RFSUNY had not followed competitive procedures in awarding 11 contracts, totaling $2.4 million. For one contract awarded on a single-source basis, a lobbying firm was paid $600,000 to $720,000 a year and several monthly payment invoices did not detail the provided services. The comptroller’s office recommended the Research Foundation receive documentation from vendors of services provided and receive multiple bids for purchase requisitions. In its response, RFSUNY agreed.

The comptroller’s report also cited the Research Foundation payments that were “inconsistent with the University’s policy and may not have supported the University’s objectives,” such as $137,500 in payments for supplemental housing allowances for two campus presidents and two instances of employee salaries being supplemented beyond state legal limits.

Further recommendations from the auditors included complying with the provisions of a 1977 agreement, which calls for depositing money into the university’s income fund, and creating limitations on spending to restrict items such as payments to employees for things like a child’s tuition or personal entertainment.

About the provisions of the 1977 agreement, according to the report, RFSUNY responded that it is not required to make deposits into the income fund. But the auditors commented the institution’s officials did not provide documentation to prove this. To the item of limiting spending, RFSUNY responded it thought “existing controls are adequate to assure that Foundation resources are expended in a manner that specifically supports the University and its programs,” the report said.

Taubkin said, “While this audit identified some improvement opportunities, the auditors concluded that the expenditures they tested generally complied with RF policies and procedures. Should any items from the previous 2005 report be included in the scope of the current audit, we will respond fully and cooperatively.”


Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: