Cumberland Times-News

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May 1, 2013

Auditors spot issues for school construction agency

Staff not monitoring status of projects to ‘ensure the timely submission of ... documents’

CUMBERLAND — Auditors said the state agency that will provide most of the funding for the new Allegany High School needs to correct several deficiencies in tracking and monitoring school construction and the recovery of funding from local jurisdictions.

The audit, by the Department of Legislative Services Office of Legislative Audits, was released April 22.

The Interagency Committee on School Construction in the 2011 fiscal year expended $249 million for public school construction projects, auditors said.

Those projects need tighter record-keeping by the IAC, auditors said.

“Proper controls were not established over data recorded in IAC’s automated records related to approved construction projects and LEA-procured contracts and certain documentation was not maintained,” the audit report said.

Auditors also said IAC staff did not monitor the status of projects to “ensure the timely submission of construction project closeout documents,” auditors said.

Other problems were found because of insufficient internal controls over an automated accounting system used to track project and contract costs and in assuring the consistency of project contracts.

The audit also said the IAC was not taking “sufficient actions to resolve a matter involving certain debt that was to be assumed by a local jurisdiction for a school that was no longer being used for school purposes,” according to the audit report.

The IAC agreed with most of the audit’s findings and said they would take corrective action.

The IAC disagreed with two of the findings. On an outstanding debt owed to the state, the IAC said the local jurisdiction has applied for a waiver of the debt.

The IAC also denied staff failed to monitor “timely submission of project close-out documents, based upon the best information available to the finance office in order to determine an estimated date of completion or occupancy,” according to the IAC’s reply to the findings, incorporated in the report.

The state’s Public School Construction Program recently notified the school system that the Maryland Board of Public Works approved, for partial funding, the Allegany High project.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has included money for the projects in his proposed capital budget for fiscal 2014.

The total cost of the Allegany project is projected to be $41.4 million.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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