Ethics Oversight (2020-MS-1)

Issued Date
December 30, 2020

[read complete report - pdf]

We also released 20 letter reports to the following 8 Counties: Albany [pdf], Chautauqua [pdf], Chemung [pdf], Genesee [pdf], St. Lawrence [pdf], Steuben [pdf], Suffolk [pdf] and Tompkins [pdf]; 8 Towns: Clay [pdf], Colonie [pdf], Greece [pdf], Oyster Bay [pdf], Ramapo [pdf], Southampton [pdf], Tonawanda [pdf] and Union [pdf]; and 4 Cities: New Rochelle [pdf], Rochester [pdf], Troy [pdf] and Utica [pdf].

Audit Objective

Determine whether local governments used resources to implement certain ethics oversight standards.

Key Findings

Local governments must comply with New York State General Municipal Law (GML) and should do more to ensure proper ethics oversight. For the 20 local governments we examined:

  • 95 percent of local governments did not ensure their Ethics Boards received formal training and 75 percent did not provide ethics training to all officers and employees.
  • 90 percent did not comply with all of the GML requirements we tested.
  • 90 percent did not ensure all required annual financial disclosure statements (disclosure statements) were filed and complete and none ensured that all disclosure statements were filed on time.
  • 50 percent did not review disclosure statements for potential conflicts of interest and completeness.
  • 50 percent (7 of 14) of Ethics Boards completed one or more of the following: meet at least annually, prepared an annual report and/or periodically reviewed the code of ethics.

Key Recommendations

  • Ensure all GML requirements are met.
  • Ensure ethics training is provided for all Ethics Board members, officers and employees.
  • Ensure all required disclosure statement filers file complete and timely disclosure statements that are carefully reviewed for potential conflicts of interest.
  • Ensure Ethics Boards comply with all code of ethics requirements.