Audit finds lapses in state school construction agency oversight

Legislative audit notes unresolved debts, lack of monitoring of contracts and projects

April 29, 2013|Erica L. Green

The state agency charged with overseeing Maryland's public school construction projects was found to have lacked proper monitoring of contracts, projects and maintenance inspections, according to a legislative audit.

The audit, released Friday, examined the fiscal and managerial operations of the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) primarily in fiscal year 2011, when the agency approved 355 district-level contracts totaling $566 million — $249 million of which was state funding.

Auditors found that the agency lacked sufficient controls over tracking contract costs and ensuring that local school systems were executing contracts that were IAC-approved and state-funded.

Auditors also found lapses in the agency's monitoring of projects to ensure their completion and noted an unresolved $890,277 debt owed to the state by a local school system.

The audit also noted that maintenance inspection reports assessing the conditions and safety of school buildings were not completed, which auditors said could have led to several deficiencies not being corrected.

In its response, the IAC agreed with the vast majority of the findings, but contended that its staff did monitor the status of construction projects and their completion dates. It also said that the debt, owed by Baltimore City, involves a building that closed in 2007 and the Board of Public Works is still considering whether to grant the school system a waiver.

The IAC also acknowledged that the paperwork for building inspections lagged, and that since the audit, it has caught up on 153 reports. The agency said that it has secured additional staff to ensure that the inspections and reports are completed on time.

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