Audit Highlights Shortcomings At Division of Cemeteries

On July 11, 2017, the New York State Comptroller's Office reported its findings from an audit of the Division of Cemeteries ("Division") conducted between January 1, 2014 and March 31, 2017.  The audit focused on the Division's monitoring of the fiscal stability and facility maintenance of cemeteries, and found a range of issues with the Division's practices, and yielded a number of statistics.

Of the 1,745 cemeteries under Division supervision, the audit found 642 cemeteries (37%) had overdue audits and 285 (16%) had delinquent annual reports, with 145 cemeteries (8%) missing both. The audit also found 22% of cemeteries had not been inspected in over 7 years.  The audit also found that this lack of information was largely due to antiquated data management. 

The audit also examined 64 high-risk or abandoned cemeteries using two different models.  It found 37 cemeteries had a median shortfall in their permanent maintenance fund of $25,500.  It also found that the two models used by the Division could reach starkly different conclusions.  Given the opportunity to respond to the audit, the Division noted that these models are only one aspect of a comprehensive approach to fiscal monitoring, which includes reviewing annual reports, periodic inspections, and reaching out to cemetery officials directly to gauge a cemetery's fiscal health.

Finally, the audit noted some positive developments.  For example, the Division recently updated its Cemetery Law Manual, and is currently in the process of updating its operations manuals.  In addition, resources have been devoted to updating the Division's computer systems and data management.  These changes largely track with the audit's recommendations, suggesting significant progress may be made in the near future.

A PDF of the full audit report, including the Division's response to the preliminary report, can be found here.

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