DiNapoli: Towns Can Better Monitor Asphalt Projects

From: Office of the New York State Comptroller
Thomas P. DiNapoli
Contact: Brian Butry
Release: For Immediate Release

Towns in New York tracked the accuracy of asphalt pricing for local roadway projects, but they need to do a better job of ensuring that paving materials match project specifications, according to an audit of ten towns across the state released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. 

"Towns spend tens of millions of dollars to build and maintain roads in our communities," DiNapoli said. "Town officials need to put safeguards in place to ensure public funds are being used prudently. This includes verifying that project costs are accurate and supported, and that both the quantity and the quality of materials are consistent with bid specifications. Overall, the towns in our audit were managing road projects well but some improvements are needed."

"We thank Comptroller DiNapoli for his response to our industry's request for an audit of local municipal controls regarding the manufacture, delivery and installation of asphalt," said Marc Herbst, executive director the Long Island Contractors' Association. "While it may appear counter-intuitive for an industry to call for greater scrutiny of itself, we believe greater standardization and uniformity of practices and procedures will create both taxpayer savings and a more level playing field thereby improving industry competitiveness." 

DiNapoli's auditors examined the towns of Brookhaven, East Hampton, Guilderland, Islip, Pittsford, Salina, Shelter Island, Southold, Thompson and Union. Auditors selected a sample of 26 asphalt paving projects and found each municipality had implemented adequate controls to ensure that they received the correct amount of hot mix asphalt (HMA) at the contract price. 

While each town had procedures to verify the price and quantity of the HMA received, only Brookhaven and Islip obtained the job mix formula and daily batch reports as part of their routine monitoring. Officials in the remaining eight towns said they believed that their knowledge of the asphalt vendor, the presence of a town official at the job site and other current monitoring procedures were sufficient to ensure vendors delivered the right product for the road asphalt projects.

The audit also examined the use of core sample testing to assess whether the composition of HMA matched contract specifications. These tests are considered an effective method for monitoring not only the type, composition and quality of the HMA material used, but also its depth and compaction on the road surface. Four of the towns reviewed did not include core sample testing provisions in their contracts. Of the six towns that included provisions for core sampling, only Brookhaven and Islip actually exercised the provision and required sampling. 

In addition, eight of the towns reviewed certified payrolls, as required by law, to ensure that contractors' employees on town projects were paid wage rates consistent with prevailing wage rates for their classification of employment.

DiNapoli recommends town officials:

  • Obtain the job mix formula and the daily batch reports from the asphalt vendor to help ensure that the HMA received is what the town contractually agreed to purchase;
  • Revise contract bid specifications to include an option for obtaining core samples so they can be assured HMA products they receive matches the contract specifications;
  • Exercise the option to obtain core samples to ensure that the HMA product matches the contract specifications; and
  • Obtain and review certified project payrolls as required by law.

The towns collectively agreed with the audit's findings and recommendations and plan to implement corrective action. Their responses are included in the final report. 

For a copy of the report visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/swr/2013/asphaltmonitoring/global.pdf 

For copies of letters sent to individual towns visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/swr/2013/asphaltmonitoring/global.htm 

LI Road Warriors Magazine is Here! Place an ad or find out more here.