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August 29, 2007

DiNapoli Audit Finds $685,000 in
Unauthorized Contracts at Mamaroneck UFSD

Network Administrator Provided Services While Residing in Greece
Audit Findings Referred to Westchester County DA

The Mamaroneck Union Free School District paid $685,000 in contract fees to a district employee to maintain the district’s computers remotely from the country of Greece while he was on leave of absence from employment at the district, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli’s office referred the audit’s findings to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office.

“There was clearly a breakdown in oversight at Mamaroneck. For seven years district officials contracted with a former employee to provide computer services remotely while he lived in the Mediterranean,” DiNapoli said. “All of this occurred without school board knowledge or approval.

“District officials should get board approval for professional services contracts and seek competition for services. Taxpayer money should be spent prudently. This did not happen at Mamaroneck,” DiNapoli continued.

The audit found the board approved unpaid leave of absences for personal reasons for the network administrator from January 1999 through June 2001. The board also approved stipends totaling $47,500 for another district employee to assume the network administrator’s duties from January 1999 through June 2001.

Eight days after the board approved the network administrator’s leave of absence, the district entered into a contract services agreement with the same network administrator in December 1998. It is highly unusual for a school district to enter into a contract with an employee of the district that is on leave of absence.

Only the former assistant superintendent of operations and the network administrator signed the initial contract, covering January 1999 through June 1999, for $35,000. Subsequently, eight more consecutive contracts were signed with network administrator totaling $650,000, covering July 1999 through June 2006. Most of these contracts were signed by the former superintendent and the former assistant superintendent of operations. The network administrator resided in the country of Greece when six of the contracts were signed.

The audit found contractual payments made to the network administrator were not properly overseen. None of the contracts were entered into with board approval. The board only approved the final contract after the contract period had started.

In addition, contrary to the board’s procurement policy, the district failed to solicit proposals or quotes for the network administration services and instead continuously contracted with the network administrator at increasing rates.

The audit also questions whether the contract services were adequately performed because the contracts did not include performance standards or documentation for the work that was performed.

The audit also discovered internal controls over processing reimbursements may have been manipulated or overridden when processing $1,258 reimbursements for a trip to the country of Greece by the former assistant superintendent for operations. The reimbursements lacked appropriate documentation.

DiNapoli’s audit recommends the board and district:

  • properly oversee and authorize professional service contracts;
  • enforce and monitor compliance with the district’s procurement policy; and
  • investigate contractual payments made to the network administrator and pursue reimbursement if appropriate.

Click here for a copy of the audit.

School District Accountability
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli requested and received an additional $2.7 million in 2007 to hire more staff to audit schools. In order to improve accountability of the state’s schools, the State Comptroller’s office will audit all of New York’s 832 school districts, Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and charters schools by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed more than 240 school audits and has approximately 230 audits currently underway.



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