Audit Faults New York Education Dept.’s Management of Computers

Summary : http://comptroller.nyc.gov/reports/audit/?r=12-01-14_FM14-057A
Full audit: http://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/FM14_057A.pdf
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/nyregion/audit-faults-new-york-education-depts-management-of-computers.html?ref=nyregion&_r=1

By ELIZABETH A. HARRISDEC. 2, 2014

An audit by the New York City comptroller’s office found what it called “grossly inaccurate” record keeping at the Education Department, where more than 2,000 computers and tablets at a sample of department locations were either unused — still swaddled in their original wrapping — or could not be located at all.

The report, which is to be released on Tuesday, examined the purchasing orders at 10 locations and compared them with inventory lists as well as the actual hardware found in those buildings. The facilities consisted of nine schools — including eight of the city’s biggest spenders on computer hardware in recent years — and one administrative building, the department headquarters at 52 Chambers Street.

The comptroller’s office found that the department did not know where nearly 1,800 laptops and desktops bought for those 10 locations had ended up. Seven hundred and twenty-seven computers were listed as having gone to particular sites, but when the comptroller’s office went to check, they were nowhere to be found. More than 1,000 additional computers were listed as “asset location unknown” by the Education Department.

During the course of the audit, 400 laptops and tablets were found to have never been unpacked. At Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, which is considered by the state to be one of the two most troubled schools in the city, 78 laptops and iPads were found unopened. Some of them had been bought in 2011.

“We found that the D.O.E. does not have a centralized inventory control system for hardware, even though it is spending close to $200 million on computers and software,” the comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, said. “This was just a sample. My concern is that these findings are just the tip of the iceberg with more than 2,000 D.O.E. sites throughout the city.”

In a statement, Yuridia Peña, a spokeswoman, said the department was “identifying ways to catalog all equipment to ensure we are using all available resources to serve our students.”

In its initial request for information, the comptroller’s office received documents that said one school, Public School 168 in the Bronx, had more than 10,000 computers. The comptroller’s office said that at that location, 10 computers had been found.

The release of this audit comes just days after Mr. Stringer sent a letter to the Education Department chastising it for missing out on tens of millions of dollars in federal funding meant to enhance the technology in schools.