School districts need to improve oversight of their technology equipment, the New York State Comptroller says after completing an audit of 20 school systems.
Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli says the audit found that many districts could not always locate assets such as laptop computers, tablets and monitors; did not always keep records of those assets; and often failed to safeguard them from theft or damage.
"District officials need to ensure these devices are tracked and protected so taxpayers know their money isn’t being squandered," DiNapoli says.
The audit looked at 1,155 technology assets in 20 districts between July 2019 and March 2022, and found that more than 20% were not properly accounted for. Many of the inventory records were missing serial numbers or had duplicate serial numbers or were missing locations for the equipment or who was assigned to them.
Eight of the 20 districts did not adequate protections in place to prevent equipment from being lost or damaged. Computers and other items were stored in unlocked rooms or hallways.
Among the auditors' recommendations for improving technology asset management:
DiNapoli’s auditors made numerous recommendations to the districts and their boards, including:
- Ensure inventory records include the details necessary to adequately track and locate assets and that asset records. At a minimum, include the make, model and serial number; the name of the individual to whom the device is assigned, if applicable; the physical location of the asset; and relevant purchase or lease information including the initial cost, depreciation and acquisition date.
- Perform a complete, annual physical inventory and compare the results with the inventory records. Update inventory records to track assets not included in district records.
- Develop a process to retrieve student devices when a student leaves the school.
- Ensure assets are properly accounted for, secure, and safe from environmental damage.