Report: Hampton Bays School District Did Not Follow Purchasing Protocol

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A recent state comptroller report revealed that the Hampton Bays School District failed to follow state-mandated protocol when distributing purchase orders for goods, services and invoices.

On several occasions, according to the report issued last month but not released publicly until last week, the school district issued purchase orders after receiving goods or services, when state education law requires that such orders be issued in advance. Every invoice filed must be thoroughly vetted, and purchase orders are designed to help control district expenditures by ensuring that purchases are properly approved, and that enough money is available to pay for them, according to the report.

The audit examined 25 invoices for 2013 and, in 10 of them, the purchase order was made after an invoice was received from a vendor and the item delivered or service provided. In one instance, the district paid a vendor $17,960 for special education services on September 7, 2013, when the vendor sent an invoice for the services on July 28, 2013, and the purchase order was dated September 5, 2013.

Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen has submitted a written response to the comptroller’s office stating that the district will continue sending a letter informing vendors that it is not responsible for payment of any good or service without an authorized purchase order prior to the receipt of said good or service. He also wrote that members of his special education department have been retrained on how to properly estimate costs of services so they can better prepare purchase orders in advance.

In an email sent Tuesday morning, Mr. Clemensen wrote that unlike other school districts that have dedicated purchasing agents to monitor every step in the purchasing process, Hampton Bays has Business and Facilities Administrator Larry Luce handle those responsibilities. Mr. Clemensen also added that some emergency purchases need to be made before an order can be submitted.

“It is important to note that this is not a regular practice,” Mr. Clemensen wrote in an email. “The comptroller’s office acknowledged that other aspects of our purchasing process work sufficiently, including obtaining the lowest responsible quotes and bids, ensuring work orders match the invoices, and that the issuance of checks is done with the full and confirming backup to authorize payment.”

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