December 20, 2013

COMPTROLLER MARAGOS: Mismanagement of Correction Center Commissary May Be Affecting Inmate Welfare

Mineola, NY- Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released an audit of the Nassau County Correctional Center’s Commissary, performed at the request of the Sheriff’s Department, covering the period 2011 and 2012. The audit found numerous instances of inadequate financial controls, and lax cash management at the approximately $1.3 million annual operation. The audit also found that the Correctional Center bypassed the County Purchasing Department by buying goods to be sold in the Commissary without proper use of the competitive bidding process. As a result, over $60,000 appears to have been overspent on inmate care while the County may have incurred over $100,000 in unreimbursed expense. The precise magnitude of the inmate welfare could not be verified due to the numerous management issues.

“The numerous management issues found at the Commissary are extremely troublesome and need immediate attention,” Comptroller Maragos said. “To the extent that these issues may imply greater concern with the jail Administration will be looked into. I am pleased the Sheriff requested our assistance in auditing the jail Commissary operation in order to ensure that State Regulations are met.”
The audit noted that:

  • Purchasing was not conducted using competitive bidding;
  • The accounting system is antiquated and lacks key cost reporting capabilities and disbursement controls;
  • There is inadequate segregation of duties over receipts, purchases, and disbursements;
  • Bank accounts are not regularly reconciled and invoices paid without complete supporting documentation and supervisory approval;
  • Commissary Employees were not recording overtime as required and employee time is not correctly reimbursed to the County;
  • There are no written guidelines on what purchases qualify as beneficial to inmate “welfare and rehabilitation” or for the distribution of “free goods.”
The New York State Commission of Correction regulations provide that profits resulting from commissary sales “shall be utilized only for purposes of inmate welfare and rehabilitation.”  Three instances of possible non-compliance with this regulation were identified at a value of $12,936.  The report noted that such items are more likely used in the normal course of Correctional Center operations and were not shown to have been used for purposes of inmate welfare and rehabilitation. Their purchase through the Commissary Account understates Correctional Center expenditures.

pdf file Nassau County Correctional Center Commissary Report

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