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July 31, 2009

 

DiNapoli Audit: Electronic Equipment Missing, Significant Personal Use of Computers at Clarence CSD

DiNapoli Available to Discuss Audit in Buffalo Today at 10:30 AM

Employees at Clarence Central School District extensively utilized computers and other equipment for personal use and six pieces of district electronic equipment were lost or stolen, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Inadequate personal-use policies for district-owned computers and lax inventory procedures over electronic equipment accounted for the problems.

“School districts need to keep track of all the equipment they buy with taxpayer dollars,” DiNapoli said. “Taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill to store a school district employee’s I-tunes music library or photos of family reunions. Clarence Central School District needs to improve its inventory procedures for electronic equipment, and the district needs to monitor this equipment to prevent personal use by employees. Now more than ever, tax dollars have to be protected.”

The audit, which covered July 2006 to December 2008, found significant personal use of the district’s laptop computers, digital cameras and hard drives, which occurred because the district lacked adequate policies over the use of district equipment.

DiNapoli’s auditors found specific evidence of significant personal use on seven laptop computers including:

  • 2,000 music files stored on one computer and 7,000 photographs stored on another computer;
  • detailed medical histories of three unidentified patients and medical forms saved by an administrator’s family member;
  • personal tax returns and financial information; and
  • unauthorized software that prepares personal income taxes, searches for airfare and travel deals, maintains a virtual aquarium and organizes photographs.

Auditors also found one of the district’s hard drives had one gigabyte of music stored on it and another hard drive contained 10,000 pictures and images, most of which did not appear to be related to school business. In addition, auditors discovered three employees cleaned, altered or deleted files prior to providing their laptop computers to auditors for examination.

Because of the district’s lax inventory procedures, the district had difficulty locating 23 laptops and several other pieces of electronic equipment for auditors to examine. Auditors determined four laptop computers and two external hard drives had been lost or stolen. In addition, auditors determined 14 laptops were not kept on district premises as well as several other pieces of electronic equipment without any documented reason or authorization for removing the equipment.

DiNapoli’s office also found weaknesses in the district’s claims auditing process and internal audit function. By law, the district’s claims auditor should be independent of business and accounting functions and report directly to the district’s school board. The district’s claims auditor reported to the business administrator and had no direct contact with the board. In addition, the district appointed a private firm as its internal auditor while it also contracted with this same firm for other services, which weakens the independence of the internal audit function.

DiNapoli’s office recommends that district officials:

  • formally monitor computer equipment for excessive personal and improper use;
  • establish a comprehensive policy that clearly defines guidelines for physically securing assets and restricting access to and use of district equipment;
  • implement formal inventory control procedures to properly account for district equipment;
  • appoint a claims auditor who is independent of all business and accounting activities; and
  • appoint an internal auditor who meets statutorily defined independence requirements.

The district generally agreed with the audit’s findings and has already begun to take corrective action. The district’s full response is included in the audit.

Click here to view the audit.

DiNapoli is available to discuss the audit today, July 31, at 10:30 a.m. at 65 Court Street in Buffalo.

School District Accountability
In order to improve accountability of the state’s schools, DiNapoli’s office will audit all of New York’s school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed 620 school audits and approximately 113 school audits are currently underway.


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