Stringer: Housing Authority Grossly Mismanaged Inventory of Equipment, Supplies
City Comptroller Scott Stringer blasted the city's Housing Authority Friday, saying it grossly mismanaged its inventory of equipment and supplies, and in an unusual move, city officials not only accepted the findings but also said they're working hand in hand with Stringer to address them. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
With its sprawling system of 334 developments housing 400,000 people, the New York City Housing Authority has more than $100 million worth of inventory to track at any given time, everything from air conditioners to light bulbs. But City Comptroller Scott Stringer says the agency hardly keeps track of any of it.
"To say we uncovered a broken system in need of fixing would be an understatement," Stringer said.
Stringer's office released an audit Friday that revealed missing inventory, poor record-keeping and surplus supplies sold off for pennies on the dollar. He says the problems are so pervasive, they require a complete overhaul of the agency's inventory management.
Authority chairwoman Shola Olatoye doesn't disagree. In fact, she joined Stringer at Friday’s news conference.
"Gone is the time for sort of burying our head in the sand, and we needed to take decisive actions," Olatoye said.
"Should New Yorkers have a sense of outrage? Sure," Stringer said. "This has been going on for many, many years, perhaps decades in the making. And we're all committed now to drawing the line in the sand and saying enough is enough."
Olatoye said some changes have already been made, including firing or demoting senior personnel responsible for inventory; implementing security at all six of the agency's satellite warehouses; suspending the sale of surplus inventory; and appointing a new interim director to reform the process.
In one case, Stringer's auditors found 11 entire pallets of materials worth $85,000 were missing from a Bronx warehouse, items that included sinks, intercoms and medicine cabinets.
"The system was so lax that one development employee repeatedly took materials and signed his name only as 'X-Men,'" the comptroller said. "In many other cases, there were no signatures at all."
Stringer, though, stopped short of saying there was evidence of theft.
The housing authority, meanwhile, will create a working group to overhaul its inventory systems. It will include representatives of Stringer's office.