In an audit of the State University of New York, Purchase College’s travel expenses, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that one employee placed $991,999 on a procurement card between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2011, but the expenses “were appropriately approved and documented.” The charges were for housing students at a hotel near the college during the fall semesters.
College officials told DiNapoli’s office that students stay at the hotel because there is a continued shortage of dormitories on campus, according to the audit, which was released Thursday. Purchase College has been doing this since 2002, they said.
“While these expenditures were appropriately approved and documented, College management had not conducted a formal written study to examine options for permanently alleviating the student housing shortage and to ensure the most efficient use of State funds,” the audit said. “However, they advised us there have been ongoing discussions to address the long term student housing needs, including discussions with representatives from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY).”
DiNapoli’s office recommended the college conduct a study of permanent options for alleviating the student housing shortage and implement the option that would ensure the most efficient use of state money. School officials agree with the recommendation and said their goal is to house all residential students on campus, the comptroller said.
The school spent a total of $788,534 on travel between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2011. Fifty-one percent of that — $401,958 — was for charges on state-issued travel cards and 49 percent — $386,577 — was reimbursements to employees for travel expenses, the audit said. During the time period, the college made purchases totaling $9.8 million on their procurement card.
The Comptroller’s Office conducts audits of travel expenses to make sure selected government employees have complied with rules and regulations and have not committed fraud, waste or abuse. New York’s executive agencies spend between $100 million and $150 million each year on travel, including car rentals, meals, lodging, transportation, fuel and incidental expenses such as airline baggage and travel agency fees.