Three new audits to see if disabilities problems fixed

Following years of policy complaints and criminal charges at the state Office of People With Developmental Disabilities, the Comptroller’s Office announced that they are going to audit the agency to see if any of the problems have been fixed.

The OPWDD, formerly known as the Central New York Developmental Disabilities Office, has undergone several state audits over the years, and has faced numerous criminal and ethical violations as a result, said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in a release on Thursday. So DiNapoli said his office will now undertake three new audits to see if the OPWDD ever acted on the Comptroller’s recommendations to fix the problems.

¿ In a January 2009 audit, ten employees and outside vendors were charged with bid-rigging on 167 maintenance and repair contracts for local Oneida County OPWDD residential homes. The contracts were worth more than $1 million. The 10 people charged later pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay restitution to the state.

¿ In a December 2007 audit, it was discovered that the DDSO had hired dozens of relatives of employees to provide repair and other respite care services. Investigators looked over 113 separate cases and discovered, in most instances, that no other vendors were even offered the opportunity to assure a reasonable price for the work.

¿ Investigators also discovered that the DDSO was not equitably distributing overtime hours among employees. They found that 21 employees worked an average of 19 overtime hours per week, and three of those employees worked an average of 38 overtime hours a week.

Comptroller officials said the three audits will take several months to complete.