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A07794 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to the timeframe for implementation of recommendations included within final reports for corrective action   PURPOSE:: The purpose of this legislation is to increase the amount of time within which a state agency or authority has to report on the implementation status of recommendations contained in an audit report from 90 to 180 days after the release of an audit report conducted by the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC). Under the current time frame, auditees often submit the same response that they previously submitted to the final report. With this change, auditees will now have sufficient time to include with their response the steps taken to implement the recommenda- tions contained in the Comptroller's audit report and, if recommenda- tions were not implemented, the reasons why. This proposed amendment will provide auditees with more time to take meaningful corrective action, provide stakeholders with greater transparency about agencies' implementation of audit recommendations by providing information on actions agencies have taken to implement recommendations and provide auditors with better data with which to evaluate risk in state programs and operations when determining whether to conduct follow-up reviews and audits.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the proposal amends section 170 of the Executive Law. Section 2 of the proposal sets forth an immediate effective date.   JUSTIFICATION:: Audits of state agencies and authorities conducted by the State Comp- troller save tax dollars and improve programs and services affecting the public health, safety, and well-being. The Comptroller's audit recommen- dations provide actionable steps auditees can take to strengthen inter- nal controls and improve government operations. The true value of an audit is ultimately achieved not from the audit itself but through an effective response to audit recommendations. An auditee's response to an audit provides valuable information on its plans to strengthen government programs and services and ultimately effectuate change for the public good. Audit recommendations may affect a critical aspect of a program or impact an auditee's overall oper- ations. Significant audit recommendations require resources to plan and execute effective corrective action. This proposal to extend the length of time a State agency or authority is given to respond to audit recom- mendations from 90 days to 180 days will provide auditees with suffi- cient time to take action regarding implementing their corrective action plans. Audits foster transparency by providing an independent assessment of government operations. Making audit results, as well as auditees' responses, available to the public, advocates, policymakers, and other stakeholders strengthens accountability while promoting civic engagement and good governance. Extending an auditee's response time by an addi- tional 90 days better positions an auditee to make substantive progress responding to audit recommendations as well as to make additional progress before publically communicating action taken towards improve- ments. Lengthening the response time to an audit will allow auditees' to further prepare responses to recommendations that provide stakeholders with better information for decision-making while providing OSC with better information to assess the implementation status of recommenda- tions, an important consideration for audit planning and following-up on audits. This proposal is consistent with other audit organizations policies. OSC surveyed the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (NASACT) to collect data on other state government audit entities procedures for monitoring the implementation status of audit recommendations. 21 State entities responded to the survey. Of those requiring corrective action (16/21), the majority (10/16) give auditees 6 or more months to provide an update on the implementation status of recommendations (5 provide auditees with 3 months or less and 1 varies; 5 aren't required/applicable). Finally, it should be noted that New York City agencies and interstate public authorities (i.e. the Port Authority) are not governed by Execu- tive Law Section 170 and are not required to provide a 90-Day Response. The State Comptroller urges the passage of this proposed legislation.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:: A.11012 of 2018 (Passed Assembly)   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE: Overall, the fiscal impact of this proposal would be negligible because it requires neither the State Comptroller nor auditee to expend addi- tional resources to implement.   EFFECTIVE DATE:: This act shall take effect immediately.
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