Data analytics drives $3B into New York government coffers

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New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli credits a data-driven platform with salvaging billions in revenue that otherwise would have been lost over the past two years.

DiNapoli accepted the Citizen Budget Commission’s Prize of Public Service Innovation award Wednesday night on behalf of Smart Audit, an analytics program the Office of the New York State Comptroller first began using in 2014. He said Smart Audit has identified more than $3 billion in savings and tax collections through identifying improper payments, waste, fraud and missed revenues in the last two years for the office’s State Government Accountability division, which audits New York State, New York City and public authorities.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is presented the Citizen Budget Commission’s Prize of Public Service Innovation on behalf of Smart Audit with Tina Kim, Deputy Comptroller for State Government Accountability, and CBC president Andrew Rein

“What we have tried to do in our Office of State Government Accountability is take a different approach … and to really take advantage of data analytics,” said DiNapoli during his remarks at the CBC’s 88th annual awards dinner in Manhattan. “Transparency, accountability and certainly looking for opportunities to make our state be more efficient and our city and our public authorities, that is our goal.”

The CBC noted that Smart Audit shifting New York SGA’s business model from traditional auditing into one that leverages data analytics has resulted in enhanced efficiencies and ensuring resources are spent as intended. The approach has boosted staff engagement and enabled improper payments to be recouped by auditees while also providing recommendations to prevent such losses in the future, according to Thomas Brodsky, chair of CBC’s Innovation Award Committee.

“It has modernized what often can be a routine governmental function,” said Brodsky when introducing DiNapoli at the CBC dinner. “The program has helped ensure that New York’s financial resources are utilized efficiently and effectively."

It also "improved operations with the state's problem gambling initiative, improving the integrity of data relied on by the state and its decision making," he said.

New York State’s general obligation bonds are rated Aa1 by Moody’s and AA-plus by S&P Global Ratings, Fitch Ratings and Kroll Bond Rating Agency. New York City’s GO debt is rated Aa1 by Moody’s AA by S&P and Fitch.

The CBC also presented its Medal for High Civic Service to the Office of the New York State Attorney General. Former New York State Lt, Richard Ravitch, who helped New York City avoid default in the mid-1970s, received the CBC’s Felix G. Rohayn Award.

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State budgets Innovation State of New York City of New York, NY
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