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February 22, 2024

Inspector General Releases Biennial Report

NYS Inspector General Lucy Lang Releases Report Detailing Agency’s Work In Her First Two Years

ALBANY, NY — New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang released today a report, available online HERE, highlighting the work of the Offices of the New York State Inspector General (OIG) in the first 24 months of her administration. The report marks a return to a lapsed OIG tradition of biennially updating the public on the impactful work being done by the agency through investigative highlights, insightful statistics, and an outlining of key initiatives.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished in my first two years in office, and this report gives all New Yorkers a detailed look at our efforts to promote integrity, transparency and accountability in State government,” said Inspector General Lang. “I am excited to share the outstanding work my staff has done and tell the story of how their investigative, training, and outreach efforts have impacted the state we are all proud to call home.”

The report, which spans 2022-2023, is broken into four primary sections – (I) OIG 2022-2023: An Overview & History; (II) Transformation & Initiatives; (III) Complaints & Investigations; and (IV) Reports – outlining notable developments in each area.

“OIG 2022-2023: An Overview & History” includes:

  • A letter from the Inspector General.
  • A history of the office, including its mission, mandate and its 11 Inspectors General. 
  • A description of the agency’s current statewide footprint, leadership and Executive Staff.
  • A tribute to former Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro, who passed away in 2023.

“Transformation & Initiatives” details:

  • The adoption of a detailed transparency plan, including:
    • The publication of more than 350 previously unreleased reports and letters on OIG’s public website, involving over 60 different executive branch agencies and entities.
    • The launch of a publicly accessible monthly data dashboard on New York State’s Open Data portal, which is updated monthly, containing data about all complaints received by OIG.
    • Engaging X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook, with posts viewed over 750,000 times, designed to share information with and receive information from the public.
  • The appointment of subject matter experts to “Attorney-in-Charge” of Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), Welfare Fraud, and Workers’ Compensation Fraud matters, to oversee those investigations and to proactively identify and address gaps and trends that can affect the most vulnerable New Yorkers.
  • The creation of a dedicated Legal Training Unit and the appointment of a Director of Training to develop new internal and external programming on ethics and compliance, and conduct outreach to jurisdictional agencies and national law enforcement and oversight partners.
  • The appointment of a Director of External Affairs to manage outreach and engagement with partner agencies and the public, resulting in a dramatic increase in cross-agency collaboration.

“Complaints & Investigations” provides insights into the work of OIG’s three offices – The Office of the New York State Inspector General (NYSIG), The Office of the Welfare Inspector General (OWIG), and The Office of the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Inspector General (WCFIG) -- including:

  • Statistical breakdowns of the more than 12,000 complaints received by the office and the manner in which they were received.
  • Details of the dozens of arrests and over $6.2 million dollars in restitution ordered or paid from completed WCFIG prosecutions, as well as the 17 arrests and over $1.3 million dollars in restitution ordered or paid from completed OWIG related prosecutions.
  • Highlights of investigations into allegations including:
    • A scheme to distribute fraudulent state documents, including driver’s licenses, social security cards, and OSHA safety cards.
    • A state investigator who warned agency targets of impending inspections.
    • A state employee who submitted 148 inaccurate time sheets.
    • Various DOCCS employees who submitted fraudulent medical documentation in support of workers’ compensation or sick time claims, including one who submitted 28 such notes.
    • A doctor who stole the identity of a licensed surgeon to review workers’ compensation fraud claims and obtained over $875,000 in the process.
    • Numerous employers who misclassified the work of their employees to avoid workers’ compensation premiums, including one who was ordered to pay over $300,000 in restitution.
    • Numerous people who continued to work while collecting workers’ compensation benefits, including one who worked as a home health aide for over two years and collected over $24,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.
    • Numerous criminal perpetrators engaged in theft and trafficking of public assistance benefits, including two who stole identities of 19 recipients to defraud the State of more than $400,000. 

“Reports” summarizes several of the public reports that followed long term investigations, including ones identifying:

  • Flaws in the DOCCS urine testing program that resulted in over 1,500 incarcerated individuals being subjected to various forms of discipline, including solitary confinement, on the basis of unreliable and unconfirmed test results.
  • How two state agencies failed to comply with their own domestic violence policies in a manner that was responsive to the needs of a victimized employee.
  • Inadequacies in the disciplinary process for a New York State Trooper who was dating the then-Governor’s daughter while serving on the then-Governor’s protective detail.
  • Agency compliance with laws enacted in response to the Schoharie limousine tragedy.
  • Persistent racial disparities in the administration of discipline within New York State correctional facilities.
  • A staffing crisis within DOCCS resulting from the abuse of a contractual provision related to workers’ compensation by corrections staff.
  • The intra- and interagency communication failures that led to the spoilage of over half a million dollars of personal protective equipment at the St. Albans Veterans Home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Issues with the DOCCS contraband testing program that resulted in the unsupported discipline of thousands of incarcerated individuals. 

“I think Glenn Fine, the former Inspector General for the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice said it best when he described IGs as ‘The Most Important Public Servants You’ve Never Heard Of,” said OIG Chief of Staff Ryan Hayward. “I am so proud of the critical work being done by members of this office, and beyond thrilled that this report gives everyone the opportunity to see what I see every day. New Yorkers may not know about the work that the talented attorneys, investigators, auditors and operations staff of this Office are doing on a daily basis, but I know for certain that the government that serves them is fairer, more transparent and more efficient because of it.”