Letter Report on the New York City Office of Administrative Tax Appeals’ Compliance with Local Law 36
June 22, 2018 | SZ18-133AL
The objective of this audit was to determine whether OATA is complying with the local law, which is intended to make City agencies, and ultimately the City as a whole, more sustainable through efforts that promote a clean environment, conserve natural resources and manage waste in a cost-effective manner. In addition, in the course of the audit, we noted efforts made by OATA to follow recycling rules established by the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) pursuant to Local Law 36. Our audit of OATA is one in a series of audits we are conducting on the City’s compliance with the local law.
In 1989, New York City established Local Law 19, codified as Administrative Code §16-301, et seq., to establish an over-arching “policy of the city to promote the recovery of materials from the New York City solid waste stream for the purpose of recycling such materials and returning them to the economy.” The law mandates recycling in New York City by residents, agencies, institutions and businesses, and includes a series of rules to guide implementation. Local Law 19 requires the City to establish environmental policies to conserve natural resources and manage waste in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.
In 2010, the City enacted Local Law 36 by which it amended the recycling provisions of Local Law 19 (Administrative Code §16-307) to require each City agency to develop a waste prevention, reuse and recycling plan and submit the plan to DSNY for approval by July 1, 2011. Local Law 36 also requires each agency to designate a lead recycling or sustainability coordinator for the agency and, where the agency occupies more than one building, to designate an assistant coordinator for each building the agency occupies. By July 1, 2012, and in each year thereafter, the lead recycling coordinator for each agency is required to submit a report to the head of its agency and to DSNY “summarizing actions taken to implement the waste prevention, reuse, and recycling plan for the previous twelve-month reporting period, proposed actions to be taken to implement such plan, and updates or changes to any information included in such plan.”
In addition, Local Law 36 requires the DSNY Commissioner to adopt, amend and implement regulations governing recycling by City mayoral and non-mayoral agencies. DSNY is also responsible for consolidating the information contained in agency reports and including this information in the agency’s annual recycling report.
The audit found that OATA did not fully comply with Local Law 36. OATA source separates its recyclable materials and has designated a lead recycling coordinator for its two offices at One Centre Street. However, we found that OATA did not establish a Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling Plan pursuant to Local Law 36. Additionally, it did not submit the required annual report to its Commissioner or to DSNY. Further, we noted from our site observation that the recycling containers were not properly labeled to prevent any improper collection of waste materials.
The audit recommends that OATA (1) establish a Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling Plan; and (2) submit the required annual report to its agency head and DSNY by July 1st of each year as required by Local Law 36. We also recommend that OATA label each recycling container or post proper signage to indicate the types of recyclable material that go into each container.
In its written response, OATA stated in substance that it was implementing all of our recommendations. Specifically, OATA reported that it has submitted a Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling Plan to DSNY for approval and stated that it would submit the required annual reports beginning in 2019 once the plan is approved by DSNY. OATA further stated that it had obtained the appropriate labels and signs for its recycling containers and placed them on or near each container to indicate the types of materials accepted.