Audit Faults Control of Field Inspectors

Image Credit: Office of the Comptroller

Comptroller’s Audit Reveals Multiple Deficiencies in how Buildings Oversees Field Inspectors. 

On December 21, 2018, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer published an audit of Department of Buildings’ oversight of its field inspectors that covered the period of July 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017. The audit reviewed the oversight of 86 field inspectors working in six units: the Building Enforcement Safety Unit, the Special Operations unit, each of Brooklyn and Queens’s Construction Enforcement units, and each of Brooklyn and Queens’s Construction Development units. The audit concluded that Buildings was not following its oversight procedures which resulted in an inability to identify weaknesses with their inspectors and their field inspections.

Buildings had adopted four types of inspection reviews of its field inspectors. The audit showed that none of the four types of required inspection reviews were properly conducted by Buildings.

Buildings failed to conduct the required QA Training and Reviews in which a supervisor accompanies an inspector in the field. Buildings should have conducted 1,058 bi-monthly QA Training and Reviews during the audit period, but only 324 QA Training and Reviews were actually conducted. All inspectors must receive both a QA Training and a QA Review. The audit showed, however, that none of the 86 inspectors received both a QA Training and a QA Review, and 33 inspectors had not receive any type of review. Additionally, each QA Review must be done five working days apart from the QA Training, but 71 of the QA Reviews were done on the same day as the QA Trainings.

Second, Buildings failed to conduct bi-monthly QA GPS Tracking Reviews to verify inspectors’ whereabouts. Buildings should have conducted a total of 427 bi-monthly QA GPS Tracking Reviews for 86 inspectors during the audit period. However, only five reviews had actually been done, and only for three inspectors. There was no evidence that the tracking reviews were conducted for the remaining 82 inspectors.

Third, Buildings’ Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs failed to enforce the bi-monthly QA In-House Review requirement for all supervisory personnel. Buildings should have conducted a total of 190 In-House Reviews. The audit showed that no In-House Reviews were conducted.

Fourth, the audit revealed that Buildings failed to properly track, report, and follow-up on inspections, and that there were additional flaws with the QA inspection database, forms, and record keeping. The audit found that there were discrepancies between the information written in the hardcopy reports and information entered in the database, inspection results were incomplete, and copies of inspection reports were missing. Buildings also did not follow up with any inspection marked “Needs Improvement” or “Unsatisfactory.”

Buildings is required to review and record the results from each inspection review in Building’s new public database, DOB NOW: Inspections so results can be tracked and analyzed for further operational and management improvement. This public database recently replaced Buildings’ previous Quality Assurance Inspection database. The audit showed, however, that the DOB NOW database did not have entry fields for relevant inspection information to be entered into. The database also allows for data to be entered in without supervisory review and approval.

The Comptroller’s office made 13 recommendations. Buildings mostly agreed with the recommendations, particularly recommendations to inform staff of oversight requirements, conduct all inspections bi-monthly, and ensure QA Reviews were not done on the same day. Buildings disagreed with three recommendations which primarily concern recording and review in the database.

Click here for the Comptroller’s audit report.


City of New York, Office of the Comptroller, MD18-078A, Audit Report on the New York City Department of Buildings’ Controls over Field Inspectors (2018).


By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is a CityLaw Intern and a New York Law School Student, Class of 2019).


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