State Comptroller: Upstate paid for two presidents at the same time

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Central New York’s largest employer, Upstate Medical University, is being called out by the New York State Comptroller for paying high-level employees millions of dollars for work that can’t be accounted for, wasn’t useful or wasn’t good.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office conducted an audit of Upstate Medical University, which is part of the SUNY system, and reviewed work assignments and salaries between January of 2015 and June of 2019.

The audit claims, “Upstate paid 12 employees a total of $4.7 million in additional compensation for work beyond their regular job duties, but did not maintain adequate documentation to support either the basis for the dollar amount or the additional duties that employees were tasked with.”

The findings by the State Comptroller indicate a lack oversight for these jobs that allow taxpayer money to be misspent.

Of 38 work assignments reviewed, 20 of them, with a payroll total of $940,000, produced work deemed “not useful, of poor quality, or otherwise inadequate by the supervisors.”

Supervisors of 13 Assignments, costing $748,335, told the Comptroller that the resulting product was not useful.

One worker’s 20-month assignment, which paid $395,495 was described as “busy work,” according to the audit.

The audit calls out the administration’s payments to a former president, who was still paid her presidential salary of $608,000 while she was on leave with the title “special assistant to the president.”

At the same time, Upstate was also paying the interim president a presidential salary, but shared no records to justify both payments.

The audio blames the human resources department for not tracking and enforcing its policies with employees leave Upstate, but continue work off-campus.

The Comptroller claims Upstate risked its own security of confidential information by not ensuring former employees signed separation agreements, revoking their access to the information.

The Comptroller’s office sent a letter to Upstate, reviewing the findings and offering a list of suggestions to improve human resources oversight moving forward.

Upstate University released a statement that said, “First and foremost, Upstate Medical has a responsibility to attract, hire, and retain the best doctors in our country to both care for patients and also teach future physicians. While we appreciate the OSC’s feedback, we have made changes and are working to streamline our administrative processes to ensure we can continue to competitively compensate top medical professionals in their fields. Our community deserves nothing less.”

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