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State audit hits Brocton School District’s purchasing procedures

BROCTON – Brocton Central School District officials say they are improving their purchasing procedures following an audit by the state Comptroller’s Office that showed the district did not use competitive bidding to acquire goods and services from nine vendors.

The audit examined purchases from 23 vendors who were paid about $571,300 between July 1, 2014 and Nov. 5, 2015. Non-competitive purchases amounted to $236,749.

Auditors criticized the district for not issuing a request for proposals for a variety of professional services, including liability insurance and legal, architectural and financial consulting.

The district also was faulted for not getting competitive bids on diesel fuel and for the purchase of a van. The audit noted, however, that officials got three written quotes on the van and chose the lowest-cost vendor.

Auditors recommended that the board set up stricter policies for engaging professional services and acquiring items that fall below the competitive bidding thresholds.

They noted that General Municipal Law requires competitive bids for purchase contracts exceeding $20,000 and public works contracts of more than $35,000. Although competitive bids are not required for professional services that involve specialized skills, the auditors stated that “prudent business practices provide that contracts for professional services be awarded after soliciting competition.”

In response, School Board President Douglas Walter said the district agrees with the audit’s recommendations and is adopting policies that will strengthen its purchasing procedures and provide better documentation for items that don’t exceed the bidding thresholds.