April 1, 2015
By Stephanie West
New York, NY –The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) can’t produce an accurate list of the office space it administers, or identify vacancies in the more than 19 million square feet of office space it manages, according to a devastating new audit by the Comproller's Office.
"It’s inconceivable that we can’t accurately identify exactly what space we own and lease, but that’s exactly what we discovered in our DCAS audit – and it’s an unconscionable failure," said NYC Comproller's Scott Stringer. "When the city's chief property manager doesn’t have a good grasp of the property it manages, it’s a red flag for taxpayers.”
Stringer said that New York City taxpayers could be on the hook for unnecessary payments to property owners, but it's unclear exactly how much. DCAS is responsible for providing city agencies with the resources and support they need to provide services to the public. City government offices occupy more than 19 million square feet of space. This includes 12.5 million square feet leased for $365 million per year, and 6.5 million square feet of City-owned space which costs $70 million annually to operate and maintain.
The comptroller's audit found many DCAS oversights and lapses in management. They include not having an accurate inventory list of available office space; failure to properly track or account for vacated space; failure to consistently follow protocols for space request evaluations; and a lack of adequate controls to ensure no unnecessary costs are incurred.
In one instance, Stringer's audit found that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) leased a new space at 2 Gotham in Long Island City for personnel, although the agency never actually vacated its previous space at 125 Worth Street in Manhattan, as expected.
“DCAS is guilty of management failures across the board, but the ultimate losers here are taxpayers," Stringer added. "I am pleased that the agency agreed to most of our recommendations and is already making changes to its procedures.”