Great Neck school district fuel use mismanaged: audit

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office released an audit on Friday finding that the Great Neck School District did not properly monitor its 4,000-gallon underground gasoline storage tank.

The report revealed that between July 1, 2014, and October 31, 2015, the school district inadequately maintained fuel records and put itself at risk of theft.

“District officials are responsible for designing controls over fuel use to ensure fuel inventories are safeguarded and protected against the risk of loss, waste and misuse,” the report said. “The board should establish policies and procedures to ensure that fuel purchases are appropriate, properly supported and fuel is used for legitimate district purposes.”  

Although the school district was cited for its failure to monitor its fuel use, the comptroller’s office said there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

The report said it found instances where there were discrepancies between fuel pump meter readings and how much fuel was actually used.

On 19 days, the report said, there was a difference of 41 gallons between what the school district had recorded and how much fuel was dispensed.

The comptroller’s office said in the report that the district needed to keep a closer eye on its fuel use and investigate any discrepancies between how much fuel was used compared with what was recorded by the pump meter.

“To accomplish this, inventory records should be properly maintained to account for the amount of fuel purchased and used,” the report said. “District officials should ensure that fuel records are periodically reconciled to delivery and use records and that material discrepancies are investigated and resolved.”

The comptroller’s office made three “key findings” during the nearly year-and-a-half audit period.

It said that the Board of Education “did not adopt a policy for fuel inventory accountability and there were no written procedures to provide guidance to employees,” district officials did not investigate discrepancies in its fuel inventory and that the district “did not perform any vehicle-based reviews to determine whether district vehicle use was reasonable.”

The comptroller’s office recommended that the Board of Education establish written procedures to control the district’s fuel assets, review daily fuel sheets and investigate discrepancies and perform reviews of vehicle performance and fuel use.

The Great Neck superintendent of schools, Teresa Prendergast, sent a letter to Ira McCracken, chief examiner of the comptroller’s division of local government and school accountability, thanking the office for its review.

“We welcome your suggested recommended practices to strengthen our internal controls, as well as procedures that will assist us in delivering services in the most cost efficient and effective way,” Prendergast said. “Your audit findings and recommendations will be of great assistance in establishing better procedures to monitor our fuel assets.”

“We are gratified to note that there were no findings of fraud, waste or mismanagement,” she added.

Prendergast said the district would submit a “corrective action plan” to the comptroller’s office.

“Our plans are to strengthen the internal controls around the monitoring of fuel inventories and to improve the safeguarding of fuel assets,” she said.

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