BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo City School District wasted around $300,000 on software and services to track computers and other information technology equipment, according to an audit just released from the State Comptroller's Office.
The audit said the money was wasted because there was little to no oversight of the software, which was intended to track the inventory of Buffalo's 23,300 computers as well as other I.T. equipment.
"Was this a waste of money?" 2 On Your Side asked Deputy Comptroller Steve Hancox.
"If you buy some software, and you don't use it, we would categorize that as you kind of wasted your money," Hancox responded.
The report also said the district paid $156,728 to electronically track 1,781 laptops with the guarantee that if the laptops were lost or stolen, the vendor would replace them. Hancox compared it to an insurance policy, and one he said sounded promising.
However, of the 10 laptops examined by the comptroller's office that were lost and eligible to be reimbursed, only one actually was. That's because the school district didn't report the missing laptops in time.
"Even if a computer was lost by the District, they were kind of safe because they had this insurance policy," Hancox said. "And they weren't making sure that they cashed in on that insurance policy, which is very disappointing."
Hancox was also disappointed to learn that about 250 laptops in all were reported to the tracking software but were not located during a physical inventory. Of those 250, the comptroller's office picked 20 and asked how many of the sample the district could locate. Only one was found.
Buffalo School Superintendent James Williams declined comment, insisting he hadn't read the report from the Comptroller, even though the district's official response to it, sent on December 10, bears his signature.
Williams instead directed our questions to Dan Marmion, the district's Chief Technology Officer.
Marmion, who was hired after the period of time which the Comptroller's office based its report, explained that some of the computers the Comptroller described as "missing", had actually been taken out of service due to age, wear and tear, or malfunction.
He also said action has been taken to deal with other concerns raised by the report.
"Absolutely we put the plan together. The state requires you to put a corrective plan together based on their findings," Marmion told 2 On Your Side
Buffalo School District spokesperson Elena Cala sent the following statement regarding the District's response:
As required by the state, we have put together a corrective action plan ... We are required to publicly post our response and plan, and have it available for 5 years.