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Governor Orders Review of Executive Compensation at Nonprofits

August 3, 2011

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New Task Force Will Make Recommendations for New Rules to Prevent Taxpayer Dollars from being Used to Support Excessive Compensation

From the Governor’s Website

Albany, NY (August 3, 2011) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has created a new task force to investigate the executive and administrator compensation levels at not-for-profits that receive taxpayer support from the state. The task force will be led by the New York State Inspector General Ellen Biben, Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, the Medicaid Inspector General Jim Cox, and the Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky.

"Not-for-profits that provide services to the poor and the needy have a special obligation to the taxpayers that support them. Executives at these not-for-profits should be using the taxpayer dollars they receive to help New Yorkers, not to line their own pockets. This task force will do a top-to-bottom review, not only to audit current compensation levels, but also to make recommendations for future rules to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to serve and support the people of this state, not pay for excessive salaries and compensation," Governor Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo continued, "There is a whole range of compensation levels and extremes that have existed for too long and must be reviewed. The use of taxpayer dollars must be scrutinized at every level."

The Governor’s task force will determine the protocol and scope of the investigation in order to target the audit to focus on ensuring that state taxpayer dollars meant to help and protect New Yorkers, particularly the poor and indigent, are going to that purpose and are not being diverted to compensation. It will also provide recommendations for State agency policies and procedures that will ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being diverted to excessive compensation.

Commissioners from the Department of Health, the Office of Mental Health, and OPWDD will also serve on the task force.

The Governor’s action follows reports of startlingly excessive salaries and compensation packages for executives at not-for-profits that depended on state Medicaid funding through the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and other State agencies.

The State’s Medicaid Inspector General has the authority necessary to exclude providers from participation in the Medicaid program if it is found that they have engaged in fraudulent or abusive practices.

There are currently no state rules governing executive and administrative compensation for not-for-profits that receive state support.

According to the Department of the Budget’s January 2010 preliminary analysis of not-for-profit employees contracting with the mental hygiene agencies (Office of People With Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health, and Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services), there were approximately 1,926 employees with annual salaries greater than or equal to $100,000. The total value of their salaries was $324.6 million, with an average salary of $168,555.

NYCON Statement on Governor’s

Review of Executive Compensation:

"NYCON supports IRS and state enforcement efforts to root out those relatively few and often large institutional nonprofits, especially in health care and higher education, where charitable resources are used for the private and personal gain of executives. Such abuses are a stain on the sector and the Governor is right, public trust is integral to the mission and work of our state’s charities. The Internal Revenue Service already provides compensation guidelines as set forth in the federal tax code and we believe those guidelines should be upheld.

It needs to be emphasized, however, that these cases are very much the exception.

The vast majority of community-based nonprofit employees are doing hard and challenging work at compensation levels that are far below public employees and often the for-profit sector. It should also be noted that the phrase "taxpayer supported nonprofits" is misleading as the state government contracts to buy services from nonprofits, just as it contracts with the for-profit sector; except the nonprofit is often expected to unfairly perform at below the actual cost of doing business. Perhaps it is also time to order an extensive review of the executive compensation levels of "taxpayer supported for-profit businesses."

NYCON asks the Governor to take this opportunity to go beyond the immediate executive compensation issue and take a comprehensive look at how the state’s overall regulatory and business relationship with the nonprofit sector can be improved in the interest of all concerned."

Doug Sauer, CEO, New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.

www.nycon.org

1-800-515-5012,
ext 103 dsauer

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