Comptroller: DOT does poor job on maintenance contracts, repairs

Joshua Solomon

Times Union

Oct 13, 2021

The state Department of Transportation lacks sufficient accountability and oversight with its more than 4,000 vehicles and their related maintenance expenses, which totaled $153 million from 2017 to 2019, according to an audit by the state comptroller's office.

“The state Department of Transportation isn’t tracking how its regional offices are buying parts for repairs made at their own repair shops and isn’t checking to make sure private repair shops are charging reasonable amounts," state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in a statement. "DOT is not monitoring recalls and warranties for its vehicles and has little oversight over fuel usage and mileage. The department needs to do better."

A litany of issues from the audit's three-year period indicated the Department of Transportation should implement new procedures to monitor the repair of its vehicles, develop a new way to track vehicle recalls and better communicate warranties to the department's regional offices.

"The lack of accountability over state vehicle use and maintenance expenses ultimately increases the risk that the department is not making the most efficient use of resources and that state vehicles and State funds will be misused," the report states. "These weaknesses also put the integrity of state property at risk and increase the risk of accident or injury while using state vehicles."

The findings included the department not being able to find more than a third of its own vehicle logs for fuel and mileage. The report found that contractors controlled pricing of repairs, without much ability for the state to negotiate fair pricing and that many vehicles had open recalls.