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NYS Comptroller


Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Cost-Effectiveness of BOCES' Non-Instructional Services (2011MS-4)
We also released four letter reports to the following: Onondaga Cortland Madison (OCM) BOCES [pdf], Hamilton Fulton Montgomery (HFM) BOCES [pdf], Delaware Chenango Madison Otsego (DCMO) BOCES [pdf] and Oneida Herkimer Madison (OHM) BOCES [pdf].

Released: April 20, 2012 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine if school districts' use of BOCES' non-instructional services actually save taxpayer dollars before BOCES Aid is factored in. Our audit period was July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2010.


Non-instructional services usually represent the second largest area of BOCES' services (after special education), and include services that support districts' management or central office functions. In 2009-10, all BOCES' non-instructional services accounted for over 19 percent of BOCES' service expenditures, and totaled more than $515 million.

New York State provides participating school districts with BOCES Operating Aid (BOCES Aid) for purchasing certain shared services through annual contracts with BOCES, called Cooperative Service Agreements (CoSers). BOCES receive BOCES Aid from the State on their districts' behalf for the costs of approved services costs, which they then pay to the districts.

Key Findings

  • BOCES' costs for non-instructional services are generally higher than the costs districts would pay if they performed the services themselves. However, when BOCES Aid is factored in, the net costs paid by the districts usually were lower because State taxpayers helped subsidize the services that BOCES provide. Therefore, the availability of BOCES Aid does not incentivize BOCES to minimize service costs, or districts to demand less expensive choices; instead, BOCES Aid shifts the burden of BOCES' extra costs from local taxpayers to State taxpayers.

Key Recommendations

  • Make good faith efforts to ensure that non-instructional services are cost-effective and efficient, and result in total costs (before BOCES Aid) that are lower than the costs districts would pay to provide the services themselves.
  • Conduct cost benefit analyses for each CoSer service they provide to ensure that they are offering services at competitive prices, apart from any consideration of additional BOCES Aid.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236