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Audit: Kings Park didn't use competitive process for district services for decades

Kings Park High School at 200 East Main

Kings Park High School at 200 East Main St. houses students grades 9 through 12. It is the only high school in the Kings Park Central School District. Credit: Fran Berkman/Fran Berkman

A New York State comptroller’s audit report released on Thursday found Kings Park Central School District officials did not seek competing proposals for decades for some professional services like legal and bond counsel. 

During the audit period from July 2018 through September 2019, district officials paid $3.14 million to 29 service providers. Officials used a request for proposals system or an alternative to select most of those providers, but for five — who were paid $911,795 — they did not. 

Auditors found that the district had not sought competition for legal services since 1992, for bound counsel since 1996, for architectural services since 2000 or for construction management since 2004. Additionally, according to the report’s authors, district “officials could not tell us how long ago their current financial advisor was first appointed.” The Board of Education “has been reappointing the same firms for these services each year,” auditors wrote. 

The audit report did not conclude that district officials necessarily overpaid or received substandard service by not using a competitive process to select service providers. It noted, though, that because they did not, “they cannot be sure that professional services are procured in the most prudent and economical manner.”

In response to the audit findings, the district will conduct RFPs for all services and will review its procurement policy, Kings Park superintendent Timothy Egan wrote in a Feb. 28 letter to Ira McCracken, chief examiner for the comptroller’s office. 

Board of Education president Pam DeFord did not respond to a request for comment Friday, and officials did not respond to a message left at the district office. 

The district sought competitive bidding or requests for proposals for most services but did not in cases where officials “may not be anticipating the need for a change in vendor,” Egan wrote in his letter. The RFP process costs time and money, he wrote, and officials had not wanted to “irresponsibly expend public funds for what might amount to a futile and inevitable outcome.”

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