City workers falsified records to claim day care centers had tested for lead in drinking water when no tests were actually performed, a city controller audit released Friday found.
Starting in 2008, the city was supposed to make sure all day care centers tested drinking water for lead. But Controller Scott Stringer's auditors found that by 2011, the city Department of Health & Mental Hygiene had dropped the ball.
DOHMH — the agency that's required to inspect all 11,000 child care centers in New York City annually — had more or less given up on the task.
"We have supervisors who told employees to falsify these tests and they never bothered for four years to go back and do the testing," Stringer said. "This is outrageous. Neglecting this lead test is a gamble on the health and safety of our kids."
At first, Stringer found, the city tried to enforce the lead test requirement. But by 2011, inspectors were finding the providers weren't keeping up with the testing requirement.
Soon DOHMH supervisors were instructing underlings to simply mark "tested" at sites that had not be tested. This allowed the city to renew or approve a new license for day care providers without actually testing for lead in drinking water at their sites.
Under pressure to keep child care centers open, the agency's bureau of child care management directed staff to claim that the agency had received lead water test results, regardless of whether such tests had been received.