A new audit released today by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer uncovered that the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) doesn’t have accurate records of over 1,450 pieces of election and office equipment, raising alarms that property could be stolen or go missing without anyone noticing. Without proper inventory controls, the BOE can’t guarantee that all election day materials will get to where they are intended and operations won’t be impeded.
“Just as the Board of Elections may have let thousands of voters slip through the cracks in the most recent election, they’ve bungled the job when it comes to keeping track of their electronic election and office equipment,” Comptroller Stringer said. “Every New Yorker deserves to have their voice heard at the polls and this equipment is essential to running elections smoothly and making sure that happens. Maintaining an accurate inventory is critical to transparency, integrity and accountability at any government agency, and on this count BOE is clearly absentee.”
The City’s inventory control guidelines require the BOE to register all of its equipment on inventory records. The Comptroller’s audit examined how well it is meeting these responsibilities, sampling 5,042 out of 11,146 total BOE items from July 1, 2013 through February 3, 2016. Auditors visited five locked warehouses maintained by the BOE, BOE’s main office in Manhattan and five borough offices.
Over 1,100 Pieces of Equipment not Properly Tagged and Identified
• Auditors discovered 1,176 items that had not been properly tagged with identification markings and asset control numbers, a significant lapse that leaves them vulnerable to theft or the possibility that voting operations may be hindered. These included 463 computers, 449 monitors, 23 laptops, 232 printers and 9 tablets.
Nearly 300 Pieces of Election and Office Equipment not on Inventory lists
• Items that aren’t listed on inventory records can disappear without being noticed. The audit uncovered 287 pieces of voting and office equipment, including 177 purchased since 2014, which were physically located at BOE facilities but weren’t listed on its current inventory records. These items included 45 computers, 127 monitors, 9 laptops, 85 printers, 5 tablets, 12 televisions and 4 voting machines.
Missing Monitors, Laptops and Printers
• Overall, auditors identified 11 missing items, including three monitors, two laptops, four printers, a tablet and a television set. When BOE was asked to locate these 11 items, officials said they would attempt to find them but as of the date of the final audit release, no information was forthcoming.
The Comptroller’s audit made a series of recommendations to BOE, including that they find missing items, maintain complete and accurate records, update its inventory records in real time, conduct an annual inventory of major electronic equipment, tag all of its property and ensure its inventory procedures follow City standards.
“New Yorkers demand that the BOE run elections accurately and efficiently and they also expect it to be able to keep track of the equipment it buys with taxpayer dollars. With three more elections this year there’s a lot of moving pieces to juggle. BOE must take steps now to assure New Yorkers that elections won’t be compromised by mismanagement and poor record-keeping,” Stringer said.
The audit made the following eight recommendations that the BOE should:
- Ensure that all missing inventory items are located and accounted for.
- Maintain complete and accurate records of all equipment in accordance with DOI’s Standards for Inventory Control and Management and Comptroller’s Directive #1.
- Update its inventory records promptly and accurately when changes occur, including new purchases.
- Conduct an annual inventory count of all its major electronic equipment, ensuring that accurate information regarding all such items and their locations are properly recorded in BOE’s inventory records.
- Ensure that the annual inventory count of major electronic equipment is properly supervised.
- Affix proper identification tags marked “Property of the City of New York” to all electronic equipment items and include a sequential internal control number.
- Review and enhance its written inventory procedures and include all the requirements set forth by DOI’s Standards for Inventory Control and Management.
- Charge all office equipment purchases to the correct object code in accordance with Comptroller’s Directive #24, Agency Purchasing Procedures and Controls.
BOE generally agreed with the report’s findings and recommendations and described steps they have taken or will take to implement the report’s recommendations. Further, BOE stated that “The comptroller’s audit of Board of Elections in the City of New York (the ”Board”) inventory practices for office equipment and voting machines has been instructive and will aid in improving the Board’s inventory practice. The Board has worked diligently and cooperatively with the Office of the Comptroller of the City of New York in completing this necessary and informative process.”