Executive Summary

This audit was conducted to determine whether the Department of Finance (DOF) is in compliance with Executive Order (EO 120), which requires that City agencies providing direct services to the public create a language access implementation plan, to ensure meaningful language access to their services.

New York is home to one of the most diverse populations in the world, with more than four million foreign-born residents from over 200 different countries.  New Yorkers come from every corner of the globe and speak more than 200 different languages.  More than 75 percent of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home, and almost 46 percent, or 1.8 million people, are limited in English proficiency.  For these New Yorkers, interacting with City government can often be a challenge.

In July 2008, Mayor Bloomberg signed EO 120, which requires all City agencies to provide opportunities for limited English speakers to communicate with City agencies and receive public services.  EO 120 specifically requires City agencies providing direct public services to ensure meaningful access to limited English proficiency (LEP) persons.  To accomplish this, EO 120 requires these agencies to develop and implement agency-specific language assistance plans for LEP persons.

Audit Findings and Conclusions

The audit found that DOF generally complied with EO 120.  A review of DOF’s Language Access Plans from 2009 through 2015 demonstrates that DOF has made steady progress in its efforts to provide meaningful language access to the agency’s services for LEP customers at its five business centers.  Each annual Language Access Plan described the steps that DOF has taken to provide additional services to the LEP population.

DOF provides services to its customers in the top six New York City LEP languages.  Further, the audit found that through a City-wide contract with Voiance Language Services, LLC and Language Line Services, LLC, DOF has the ability to provide documentation, translation and phone interpretation services in 175 languages.

Audit Recommendations

The report recommends that DOF continue to adhere to EO 120 to ensure that it adequately meets the language needs of the communities it serves.  As required by EO 120, DOF should utilize available and relevant studies and update and post all subsequent Language Access Plans on its website.

Agency Response

In its written response, DOF officials generally agreed with the audit’s finding and recommendation and stated, “We thank your office for acknowledging our efforts regarding language access. We are always looking to provide the best possible customer services to all of our constituents–in whatever language they require.”