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Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli blasts Roosevelt schools over no-bid purchases

The Roosevelt Union Free School District needed to tighten its controls regarding no-bid purchases of less than $20,000, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office said in a report this month.

District officials, in a written response, acknowledged the issue and said they already have addressed the problem.

The audit, which covered a period from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, examined internal controls over purchases that came in under $20,000, which were not subject to competitive bidding. Auditors said the district made $824,117 in such purchases from 148 vendors in the time period outlined by the study.

The comptroller’s office randomly selected purchases from 24 vendors totaling $119,741 for close examination.

They found that the district did not obtain competitive quotes for purchases made from nine of these vendors, totaling $35,214 in goods and services.

In addition, five purchase orders totaling $30,191 were made without the proper documentation.

Brian Butry, spokesman for the comptroller’s office, said the district has effective policies in place but hasn’t always followed them.

“That is something they will need to address moving forward,” he said.

By placing orders without the proper documentation, “District officials are committing the District’s funds without proper authorization.”

The comptroller’s report said that because district officials did not adhere to their own policies “and ensure that goods and services were acquired through a competitive process, they do not have assurance that the District is receiving the best price.”

The comptroller recommended that the school board ensure the district uses competitive methods for procurement and also ensure no purchases are made without an approved purchase order.

Roosevelt operates five schools serving 3,400 students and employs 500. Its 2014-15 budget was $92.8 million.

In another review from the comptroller’s office, the tiny Fire Island Union Free School District was found to have been properly granting leave time for employees.

“We commended them for how they were doing it,” Butry said. “They dotted all of their i’s and crossed all of their t’s.”

The Fire Island audit covered July 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2015, and also was released this month.

The district operates one school with roughly 50 students and 40 employees. It had a $5.6 million budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The comptroller’s office began routine school audits after a Roslyn schools scandal in which a former superintendent embezzled millions.

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