New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently announced that his office completed audits of six school districts, of which the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District was included. The district's internal controls gasoline credit accounts and cellular phone usage were examined in the audit.
Overall, auditors found that the district established adequate controls over gasoline credit account usage and the also that the district has been generally proactive in monitoring cellular phone telephone expenses.
Referring to gasoline credit accounts, the audit states, "Gasoline credit accounts are generally established for district employees to purchase gasoline for district vehicles, which includes school buses, vans and other general maintenance equipment.... Although the district established and implemented a credit card policy, controls over fuel usage could be improved by monitoring gasoline credit account statements.
"The district has credit accounts with two gasoline vendors, from which 22 district employees are authorized to purchase gasoline. Each of the 22 employees has a personal identification number to procure gasoline. The district made payments totaling $77,175 ($39,340 during the 2005-06 fiscal year and $37,835 during the 2006-07 fiscal year) for gasoline. The vendors provide the district with a monthly detailed listing of all purchases. We reviewed all 48 statements from the two gasoline vendors. We found that each statement includes sufficient, detailed information for each transaction. The information includes the: date, time and location of the transaction, amount of fuel pumped, vehicle code and name of the employee who gave rise to the transaction. Although district employees are not required to submit receipts, we found that the accounts payable clerk reviews all gasoline account statements. Our review found only minor discrepancies in these transactions, which were immediately investigated and resolved by the assistant superintendent for business. While we commend the district for establishing appropriate controls over gasoline account usage, the controls would be improved if district employees were required to submit receipts."
In regard to cell phone usage, the audit states, "The board has adopted a policy for use of district-issued cellular telephones, which includes a list of authorized users by position. The policy also states that the phones are to be used only for purposes directly related to their employment with the district. If the phone is used for purposes other than district business, the employee must reimburse the district.
"We found that the district has been generally proactive in monitoring cellular telephone expenses. We reviewed 24 claims totaling $41,884 ($21,681 during the 2005-06 fiscal year and $20,203 during the 2006- 07 fiscal year). The district properly used the existing New York State Contract to procure cellular telephone services and monitored the number of cellular telephones in use.
"During the 2005-06 fiscal year, the district had 10 cellular telephones which each had plans that included 1,200 minutes per month at an average rate of $79 per phone per month. The district took appropriate action to reduce cellular telephone expenses by decreasing the number of phones under the 1,200-minute plan to seven in the 2006-07 fiscal year. We did identify some opportunity for the district to further reduce costs and we communicated that to district officials. We commend the district for being proactive in monitoring cellular telephone expenses and encourage district officials to continue reducing district costs when opportunities exist."
"My office's audits of school districts... helps improve their financial management practices," said DiNapoli. "These audits are tools for schools to make sure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars and provide students with the best possible education."
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 (BOCES) and charter schools by 2010. His office has completed 400 schools audits and approximately 200 audits are currently under way.
For a full copy of the report, write to the Office of the State Comptroller; Public Information Office; 110 State Street, 15th Floor; Albany, New York 12236 or visit www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov.