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in the sub-committee's report, of the adoption by the Board of Aldermen of the final form of the Manual of Procedure of the new accounting system as a City Ordinance to rivet it in the city's statutes, would create a legal safeguard against a reversion to the old methods in the future. But certainly the completion of the reform itself would be the best guarantee of better things. The taxpayer's utter ignorance of the city's business in the past has made him a helpless victim of spoliation. Once the city has had a real taste of accurate records and intelligent, comprehensive reports of its vast operations and expenditures, it is hardly conceivable that the public appetite for more efficient administrative results would not be progressively whetted.
Three years ago your committee reporting on the urgent necessity of the reform said : " No other issue has been presented to our citizenship in years so vital to the permanent welfare of Greater New York. Questions of rapid transit, of educational expansion, of commercial advance and social reform, pressing though they are, must take second place to this, for every reform and every measure of municipal advance depends upon honest, economical administration of the city's finances and this cannot be secured without such a system of accounting as shall fix responsibility in every stage of municipal receipts and expenditures.”
Your committee submits and moves the adoption of the following resolutions :
Resolved, That the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, believing that the complete installation of the city's new accounting system is vitally necessary to securing prompt, efficient and economical administration of the city's affairs and finances and, particularly, more intelligent public knowledge thereof, and, believing that further delay would be extremely prejudicial to the interests alike of the citizen, taxpayer and bondholder, asks the other commercial and civic organizations of the city and the public generally to join in earnestly urging the Board of Aldermen and the Board of Estimate and Apportionment to make provision for the complete and effective installation of the entire system before the expiration of term of the present Comptroller and to create a fund of $200,000, or such sum as may be necessary, for use by the Comptroller, in his discretion and upon his responsibility, for the employment of the necessary accountants of definite technical experience and ability to accomplish this purpose ; and be it further
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Chamber that steps should be immediately taken, by mandamus proceedings or otherwise, through the Comptroller or corporation counsel, to determine what, if any, legal obstacles exist to the exaction by the Department of Finance of the accounting reports contemplated by the new accounting system from every department, bureau or office supported by taxes or bond sales of the city, and if any such obstacles are found to exist, to forth with appeal for remedial legislation; and be it further
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Chamber that neither the city's executive officers nor the public can obtain the full benefits of the accounting reform unless plans are immediately perfected for the comprehensive study and systematic use of the accounting records which the system, when completed, will make available. The Bureau of Municipal Investigation and Statistics and the Commissioners of Accounts could be made the natural instruments for this work. The former, which now prepares information for the making of the budget, if transferred to the jurisdiction of the Board of Estimate, as suggested by the sub-committee, could systematically investigate the accounting records for the information of the Board, and the Commissioners of Accounts, already clothed with broad powers of audit and investigation, could place currently in the hands of the mayor, the chief executive officer under the charter, the results of the city's operations as they progress. Simultaneously reports from both sources would serve to enlighten the public as to the efficiency, economy and integrity of the city's operations.
Resolved, That the Chamber adopts the report of the Committee on Finance and Currency and the accompanying statement of the sub-committee and instructs the committee to take such further action as it may deem advisable.
FRANK A. VANDERLIP,
Committee on Finance and Currency.
NEW YORK, September 26, 1912.
REPORT OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE OF EXAMINATION.
FRANK A. VANDERLIP, Esq.
of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York: DEAR SIR :-Pursuant to the resolution adopted by the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, at the request of Comptroller WILLIAM A. PRENDERGAST, for an examination into the development of the city's accounting and business methods during his administration, the undersigned sub-committee appointed by you January 4, 1912, to make such an examination herewith presents its report. .
The sub-committee, in accordance with its instructions, bas had in mind, throughout the investigation, the purpose of showing the progress of the installation of the city's new accounting system during the interval since the report of the previous sub-committee of the Chamber in 1909. In connection therewith, it was deemed advisable to place on record some of the practical benefits which have accrued to the city, a description of the present situation and the work still to be done to put the city in a position to reap in better government and more economical administration, the full benefits of modern business methods. An appendix and four exhibits attached hereto show succinctly the work at present under way, what has been accomplished in three years, what still remains to be done to complete the installation and operation of the new system, together with a statement showing the existing departments, boards, offices, etc., of the city government.
At the outset of this report the sub-committee desires to place on record its opinion that the people of New York have cause to congratulate themselves upon the substantial progress made in the installation of the new accounting system since the examination of 1909. That does not mean that the committee endorses all that has been done, or left undone, in the last three years, but only that more than a semblance of order at last is arising out of the tangled, chaotic and unscientific methods which formerly prevailed in the city's accounts, and to which New York owes much of its big debt and burdensome budget; and that, with proper perseverance by the officials, backed by a continuation of unflagging public interest and pressure, there is a prospect that the waste and sources of political graft so long a disgrace to the city will be reduced to a minimum, if not entirely eliminated, and that the city will be placed upon something like a real business basis, with its financial transactions recorded to show what the city spends its money for and what it gets,—a situation which alone can content the taxpayers and holders of the city's securities.
The ultimate object is not only to show current operations covering receipts and disbursements, but to carry the details up to general accounts, which will exhibit the financial position of the city, its purchasing and contractual relations, and, at the same time, classify what each class of work costs, with the amount of work accomplished, to show unit costs for comparison with other cities and private institutions; the whole supplemented with a complete balance sheet showing the assets and property of the city and its liabilities of every description. The civic awakening all over the United States, in the last few years, to the necessity of introducing business methods of accounting and administration in the the operation of municipalities, will soon enable comparisons to be made with other great American cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee, as well as with those of foreign countries ; thus eventually permitting the administration of the city to be judged by its record of economy and efficiency.
Fortunately, the scientific and comprehensive accounting system which the city is installing, the fundamentals of which the present sub-committee-like its predecessor--endorses, has been accompanied by important collateral reforms; a change in the time and method of collecting the city's taxes, which will reduce by one-half the cost of financing the city; the more effective working of the bureaus, notably that of the Commissioner of Accounts, which now constitutes an independent bureau for auditing and investigating operating results for the mayor ; the creation of a Bureau of Standardization and a testing laboratory, all designed to co-ordinate in testing the operating results of the city.
From this hopeful outlook, however, it remains true that the reform in the city's financial book-keeping is far from complete and that until the new system is fully installed and in operation and everything brought up to date, the higher bearing of the results upon the general aims and policies of the city's government, which should logically flow from intelligent and efficient accounting control, will be lost to the city. Before completing the introduction of the reform it will also be necessary to strengthen the hands of the Comptroller and to settle definitely several deplorable conflicts between the departments and the controlling central officers. It is probably as true now as it was in 1909, when your former sub-committee reported, that the reforms can be “made complete only by amendment of the laws governing the city's fiscal system ”-a necessity recognized by the Charter Commission of 1909, the Legislative Commission and the subsequent attempts to legislate at Albany.
Under the Charter, the Comptroller has the power to prescribe book-keeping and other accounting reforms (section 149 and 149a), but he has no power to enforce them and the lack of co-operation which has arisen, and which now stands in the way of complete and accurate control over every department, bureau and office of the consolidated city, perhaps can only be removed by clearer legal statutes. The broad question of the somewhat anomalous position of the Comptroller in relation to the operating results of the city is not one which the sub-committee feels called upon to raise, except for the purpose of pointing out, as the Advisory Commission of 1908 did, the ultimate necessity of its settlement. The Mayor, Borough Presidents and other executive officers of the city are responsible for departmental and administrative results, whereas the Comptroller is essentially a political and financial officer, with legal responsibility, for accounting control but not for operating results—yet the Board of Estimate has authorized him to install and control the executive and operating accounts. During the period necessary for the installation of this work, no harm can be done, but the distinction is logical and should be enforced. The Mayor, as the Chief Executive Officer under the Charter, is now enabled through his own appointees the Commissioner of Accounts, to make independent investigation and audit for the purpose of protecting the city. The central governing authority is gradually being concentrated more and more in the Board of Estimate and Apportionment through its control over appropriations. The transfer of the Bureau of Municipal Investigation and Statistics to the jurisdiction of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, to which there is reason to believe the Comptroller would have no objection, would give the board the necessary organization to prepare from the accounting records the statistics and information necessary to intelligent consideration of the city's executive and operative results.
THE INSTALLATION OF THE NEW ACCOUNTING SYSTEM.
A statement of the present status of the installation of the new accounting system, outlined in the Manual of Accounting and Business Procedure, issued by Comptroller METZ, after endorsement by some of the most eminent accountant firms in the United States, might seem to indicate that progress had been exasperatingly slow, and that the installation was still a very long way from completion. But, when the innumerable difficulties wbich bave blocked the installation have been examined, it is rather a matter of surprise that so much has actually been accomplished.
The laws covering the central control of the accounts of the departments were in much the same confusion as the accounts themselves and it is unfortunate that, as a preliminary step, the authority of the Finance Department to exact uniform and prompt reports should not have been established. It is equally clear that the Comptroller should have been given a proper independent organization of experts to devote undivided attention to installing the system. Failure to properly clear the way is undoubtedly responsible for much delay and confusion. The persistent difference of opinion as to the best method of introducing the reforms made it more difficult to wear down the resistance, now happily almost disappeared, which existed in some quarters against the introduction of new methods while lack of complete initial organization resulted for a long time in make-shifts and half-way measures. Comptroller METZ inaugurated the movement by the appointment of a Committee on Accounts and Methods, composed of three of his subordinates and two representatives of the Bureau of Municipal Research. A partial installation was begun in 1908 and final instructions for complete installment in all the departments of the city and county governments was ordered to take effect at the beginning of 1909. But only ten men were available for the task. The Chamber of Commerce at this juncture passed a resolution urging the Board of Estimate and Apportionment to appropriate $50,000 to enable the employment of the necessary expert assistants. No heed was paid to this resolution. The Comptroller, thereupon, was compelled to use temporary accountants paid out of the Contingency Fund, for work demanding the highest experience and capacity. There followed an effort to induce the legislature to