Hannibal Schools Fixing What State Audit Found Wrong

Hannibal’s interim Superintendent of Schools believes the district will soon be “in good shape” with the state’s recommendations to fix problems found in an audit.

The audit from the Office of the State Comptroller asked two questions: Did the district have procedures to make sure it was buying goods and services in the least expensive way, and did it have adequate control of its fuel inventories?

Both answers came back: No.

Here’s what the audit said in its summary:

We found that District of?cials did not ensure that goods and services were purchased in the most economical manner. The District did not seek competitive bids, as required by General Municipal Law (GML), for two of 10 purchases totaling $57,500, or obtain the required number of written or verbal quotes for purchases under the bidding threshold, as required by guidelines issued by the SBA, for ?ve of 21 purchases totaling $18,344. The District also paid four of seven professional service providers a total of $183,600 without soliciting requests for proposals. District of?cials did not always comply with GML requirements because the District’s purchasing policy does not identify dollar amounts for bidding thresholds, and does not specify how to procure goods and services that do not require formal bids, such as purchases under the bidding threshold and professional services.

District of?cials should improve controls over gasoline and diesel fuel inventory. The District could not account for 3,123 gallons of fuel valued at $6,739 because the District has not established policies and procedures to effectively control these inventories. Speci?cally, the District did not adequately limit access to fuel pumps, maintain perpetual inventory records, or reconcile various usage logs to physical inventory levels. As a result, District of?cials lack assurance that District fuel is used only for District vehicles.

You can read the full audit, here.

In its written response, then-Superintendent Mike DiFabio took issue with the audit’s finding that a ceramics kiln should have been b0ught through competitive bidding.  He said that bids had been sought during the technical assessment of the kiln and that once the lowest-cost kiln that met the school’s technical specifications was met, the district went to a local distributor for the purchase.

He also defended not seeking competitive bids for obtaining a sewer line cleaning service.  The Comptroller’s office said it found two other potential local vendors simply by searching the internet.  But DiFabio wrote that a further check would have shown that the two other vendors no longer offered the service, so the district was right to proceed without seeking bids, even though it had not performed a similar search for potential vendors.

But the district did not argue with the key findings: That it does not have a policy that spells out how goods and services are to be purchases if the cost falls under the threshold for competitive bidding, and that it does not have an accurate way to track the use of district-purchased fuel.

In the letter, DiFabio promised to have new policies in place by September 15 and to solve the fuel pump issue by October 1.

The job fell to new Superintendent Pete Backus, who is serving for one year while the Board of Education conducts a search for a permanent Superintendent.

He told the Board of Education recently that district business official Nancy Henner would have policies ready to be reviewed at the board’s September meeting.

He said a new fuel pump has been ordered and a system for tracking use will be in place in time to meet the district’s promise to the state.

“We will be in good shape for these three recommendations,” he said.