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Audit: Mattituck-Cutchogue School District ordered goods before approvals

A state audit has revealed a discrepancy in routine purchase order approvals in the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District, totaling $61,109.

The audit covered the period from July 1, 2016, though Jan. 31, 2018. It found that the district’s claims auditor approved 12 purchases with confirming purchase orders, meaning that the orders were issued after the items had already been ordered or received. For example, a purchase of 30 desktop computers costing $44,670 was made June 1, 2016, and the confirming purchase order was issued 11 days later, according to an audit by the state comptroller, which released its findings Friday.

Confirming purchase orders should not be allowed except for emergency purchases, auditors said.

“Although all of these purchases appeared to be reasonable and for appropriate purposes, the routine use of confirming purchase orders circumvents internal controls and weakens the procurement and budget control process,” auditors said.

Superintendent Jill Gierasch, who began her role in the district in August, acknowledged the mishaps in a response letter dated Sept. 21 and said steps have been taken to address them.

In September 2017, she noted, the district implemented financial software that requires all purchase orders to have a dated and approved requisition before it can be prepared. Staff will also receive additional training on the district’s purchasing policy and a memo will be sent to anyone who initiates a confirming purchase order, reminding them it is against policy, Ms. Gierasch said in the letter.

The audit noted that following proper procedure for processing claims helps control expenditures, ensures that purchases are properly authorized and reduces the risk of fraud.

During the audit period, district officials paid 3,786 nonpayroll general fund claims totaling $26.5 million. Auditors reviewed 71 of those claims totaling $143,757, which contained 198 invoices and purchase orders. Auditors reviewed the claims to verify that they were for legitimate expenses and properly authorized.

Auditors recommended that the district enforce its policy of disallowing confirming purchase orders and that its claims auditor should verify that each purchase has an approved purchase order before placing any orders. 

“The district has taken actions based on the report and will continue to focus on improving our fiscal and operational controls,” Ms. Gierasch said.

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