Executive Summary

This audit was conducted to determine whether the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) properly monitors its employees who use City-provided E-ZPasses and parking permits while driving City-owned or personally-owned vehicles on City business in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.

DSNY is responsible for keeping New York City healthy, safe and clean by collecting, recycling and disposing of waste; cleaning streets and vacant lots; and clearing snow and ice.  To clear litter, snow and ice from approximately 6,000 miles of City streets and remove debris from vacant lots and abandoned vehicles from City streets, DSNY operates 59 district garages and manages a fleet of over 2,200 sanitation trucks, 450 mechanical brooms and 690 small and large salt spreaders.  DSNY is also responsible for leading the City’s efforts to reduce waste deposited into landfills.  As of June 30, 2016, DSNY had 10,222 employees, over 8,000 of whom were uniformed sanitation workers and supervisors, and an operating budget of approximately $1.53 billion.  As of September 2016, 9,113 employees were authorized to use agency vehicles and E-ZPasses issued by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for City business.  In Fiscal Year 2016, DSNY spent approximately $5 million for E-ZPass usage.

Audit Findings and Conclusions

The audit found that DSNY did not properly monitor the use of E-ZPasses by its authorized drivers in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.  Specifically, we found that DSNY did not maintain either a log or trip tickets detailing agency E-ZPass usage, both of which are required by the City’s and DSNY’s policies and procedures, and that DSNY did not keep accurate track of its E-ZPass tags.  In addition, we found that DSNY is using vehicles on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall list.  We found no issues concerning parking permit usage.

Audit Recommendations

To address the findings raised in this audit, we made the following fourteen recommendations:

  • DSNY should maintain both logs and trip tickets detailing E-ZPass usage as required by the City of New York’s City Vehicle Driver Handbook (the Handbook).
  • DSNY should ensure that its employees are properly completing trip tickets that record their vehicle and E-ZPass usage as required by the Handbook.
  • DSNY should require its Agency Transportation Coordinator (ATC) to review and monitor trip tickets submitted by the employees to ensure that they are properly completed and can be used for overseeing vehicle and E-ZPass usage as required by the Handbook.
  • DSNY should reinforce the policies and procedures detailing vehicle and E-ZPass usage among employees.
  • DSNY should ensure employees fully reimburse DSNY for any personal use of a DSNY E-ZPass including the cost of E-ZPass charges incurred for commuting and other non-business purposes.
  • DSNY should monitor and limit the personal use of City vehicles and recoup the full costs of the use of City vehicles for non-business purposes.
  • DSNY should ensure all current E-ZPass tags are properly documented and accounted for and clearly document its issuance of replacement E-ZPass tags.
  • DSNY should ensure that all deactivated E-ZPasses are collected and returned to the MTA.
  • DSNY should determine if any deactivated E-ZPasses were previously used for non-business purposes and recoup the cost of each past personal use.
  • DSNY should reconcile all E-ZPass statements to its list of E-ZPasses. E-ZPass tags that are found not to be current and active should be immediately deactivated and returned to the MTA.
  • DSNY should ensure that all DSNY vehicles have the appropriate E-ZPass tags when going through tolls.
  • DSNY should immediately contact the vehicles’ manufacturers that have recalled DSNY vehicles and determine what steps should be taken to repair or, if necessary, return the vehicles to the manufacturer for repairs.
  • DSNY should confirm that its vehicle dealers and manufacturers contacted NHTSA to inform that agency of repairs or recalls that have been cleared so the database can be updated.
  • DSNY should retire vehicles that pose a safety hazard to its employees.

Agency Response

In its written response, DSNY generally agreed with the audit’s findings and stated, “Thank you for the opportunity to review and comment on the five (5) major findings and fourteen (14) recommendations contained in your recent audit. . . .  We request that you take our comments into consideration and reflect them in the final audit report.”  DSNY further stated, “The audit report identified weaknesses that need to be addressed to prevent misuse and risk of loss to the agency.”  The agency also stated in substance that it had taken steps to improve its E-ZPass inventory system and to incorporate the auditors’ recommendations where feasible