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I read with dismay of our superintendent of school's exploitation of a teacher's personal tragedy with self-congratulatory statements issued to the press.

She is alleged to have received $2,784 to which she was not entitled as a result of submitting duplicate overtime payroll slips over two school years. If this is a sample of the savings of a fraud, waste and abuse task force created in 2003, taxpayers aren't getting their money's worth!

With the perspective of 40 years in accounting, from shirt-sleeves accountant to vice president for finance in educational organizations with multimillion dollar operations, I would like to make a couple of other points about this case.

First, duplicate submissions for payment are not rare occurrences, they happen frequently, and not just with institutions' payrolls, but in everyday household matters. I have had duplicate requests for payment from my lawyer, my doctor and my vacation time share.

More importantly, the controls of accounts payable and payroll systems are supposed to catch duplications. If an accounting system cannot catch duplicate payments of $2,784 on a payroll, what about the much larger payments for services and supplies? I am left with a disquieting feeling about our school's accounting and controls.

William Kirsch


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