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NEW YORK CITY-While agreeing with four of five recommendations included in an audit report from the Comptroller’s office on responsiveness to safety-related complaints, the Department of Buildings issued its own response after its publication. One of the key points is that the DOB believes the audit, which covered fiscal year 2002 and part of the first quarter of 2003, did not adequately reflect the work of the office because only one-third of top priority were sampled by the Comptroller. The DOB also maintains the this sample included “invalid complaints.”

For its part, the Comptroller’s office tells GlobeSt.com that “DOB implies that selecting a sample of only one-third of the Priority A complaints is inappropriate and further implies that the sample somehow only selected those that were invalid i.e., the auditor skewed the sample to only select those that were invalid.” In four out of the six categories, the Comptroller’s office says it did not sample but in fact tested 100% of the populations. For the remaining two categories, the sample was randomly selected. “The overall sample of the six categories was extensive. In fact it was sufficiently large to allow the auditors to project their results to a 98% confidence level, +/- 2.3 %. This is an extremely conservative level of statistical projection,” the Comptroller’s office stated.

The DOB says that “the Comptroller would not provide a list of Priority A complaints used in its sample and allow the Department to provide evidence of follow-up inspections.” The Comptroller’s office says this is not true. “The Priority A complaints that we reviewed were provided by the agency,” the Comptroller’s office replies. Regarding evidence of follow-up inspections, as we state in the report, we made numerous requests during the course of the audit for DOB to provide evidence, yet none was provided.”

Beginning January 2002, the DOB started a monthly program to regularly inspect open hazardous violations and claims to have provided documentation to the Comptroller’s office, however the Comptroller’s office says they were not provided with any documentation during the course of the audit of reinspection efforts that were dated prior to May 2003, They said they were also not provided with any documentation of reinspection efforts for any of the violations in the sample.

According to the Department of Buildings, property owners who receive violations for non-hazardous conditions are required to certify correction with the DOB before the violations can be removed. The Comptroller’s office maintains that self-certification by property owners does not represent follow-up efforts on the DOB’s part.

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