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April 2, 2009


DiNapoli: Official Destroyed Fuel Usage Records in Advance of Comptroller's Audit

District Did Not Adequately Safeguard Fuel Inventories

A transportation official at Dansville Central School District ordered the destruction of fuel inventory records after he learned the district’s fuel usage would be audited by the State Comptroller’s office and in advance of a hearing by the Department of Environmental Conservation, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“Destroying records to avoid scrutiny is not acceptable,” DiNapoli said. “Proper oversight of fuel inventory and usage is needed at Dansville Central School District. Taxpayers have a right to know if the district’s assets are properly managed.”

The audit, which covered July 2006 to June 2007, found that the district failed to adequately safeguard fuel inventories because it had not developed comprehensive policies detailing record maintenance procedures for fuel usage. In addition, the district’s transportation director told the district’s software vendor to delete all fuel usage records from the computerized system in September 2007. The disposal of the records violated applicable record retention guidelines and was done without the authorization of district officials.

Auditors learned that at the time the records were deleted, the transportation director was aware of the Comptroller’s office’s intention to audit the fuel inventory system and of a pending DEC hearing about the district’s recordkeeping violations. The timing of the director’s actions raises the appearance that the director ordered the records to be deleted to avoid public scrutiny.

Auditors also found the district failed to adequately train staff on how to reconcile recorded fuel usage with actual inventories in accordance with DEC regulations even after a DEC report noted this weakness in April 2007. Because district personnel did not reconcile fuel inventory records, fuel leaks could have gone undetected and resulted in substantial costs, such as groundwater and soil remediation and DEC fines.

The transportation director also did not adequately safeguard fuel keys and PIN numbers that were needed to pump fuel from the district’s gasoline and diesel pumps. The failure to do this allowed anyone who entered the transportation office access to the fuel keys and the PIN numbers.

DiNapoli’s audit also found the district:

  • did not properly segregate fuel inventory duties among employees;
  • could not account for $14,000 in band uniforms;
  • paid $20,000 more than necessary for the district’s band uniforms because it acquired them by lease-purchase instead of purchasing them outright;
  • did not properly manage tuition reimbursements;
  • assigned employees more access rights to financial software than they needed to perform their job functions.

DiNapoli’s office recommends that district officials:

  • adopt written, comprehensive policies for its fuel inventories;
  • reconcile perpetual fuel inventory records with actual physical inventory and follow up on any differences;
  • improve security over fuel by restricting access to fuel, fuel keys and PIN numbers; and
  • discipline the transportation director for the unauthorized destruction of district records.

District officials generally agreed with the audit’s recommendations and have already initiated corrective action to address some of the auditors’ concerns. Click here to view the audit.

School District Accountability
In order to improve accountability of the state’s schools, DiNapoli’s office will audit all of New York’s 834 school districts, Board of Cooperative Educational Services and charter schools by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed 550 school audits and approximately 180 school audits are currently underway.


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