The Syosset Fire Department has multiple stations, including this one...

The Syosset Fire Department has multiple stations, including this one on South Cold Spring Road. (July 26, 2011) Credit: T.C. McCarthy

A state audit has concluded that the Syosset Fire District lacked a competitive bidding process for lower-cost purchases and needed to tighten access to financial software and accounting records -- issues the district said it has remedied.

The report released Tuesday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office indicated no illegal activity by the district that serves Syosset, Woodbury and Laurel Hollow.

Giovanni Graceffa, chairman of the district's board of fire commissioners, in a letter to the comptroller's office responding to the audit, said the study "did not identify any instances of unauthorized computer access or inappropriate use of District systems." Graceffa and other district officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The audit reported that the district required no competitive bids for purchases of less than $5,000 during the period of the audit, Jan. 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011.

Twenty payments totaling nearly $53,000 were made without seeking other quotes, according to an auditor's sample.

"The failure to obtain proposals or competitive quotes increases the risk that the District will overpay for goods and that purchases will be influenced by favoritism," the report stated.

The district paid one vendor $3,350 to update decals on a district vehicle, according to the audit. That unidentified vendor was paid a total of $21,280 for goods and services during the audit period -- though no single claim was more than $5,000, the report found.

District officials have amended the procurement policy for goods and services to address the competitive bidding issue, the letter stated.

DiNapoli's office also found five of six financial and management software system users had "inappropriate access."

The district superintendent previously could view, add to, delete and modify accounting records in the financial software, even though he has no accounting responsibilities. Fire district officials have since limited the superintendent to a "read only" function and removed a generic user account, reduced the number of users with access to the management software and taken other measures, according to Graceffa's March 12 letter.

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