Audit Finds Thousands of Computers Unused, Missing in NYC

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An audit of New York City public schools by city Comptroller Scott Stringer has discovered the Department of Education is not sure where 1,800 computers are and another 400 were never unpacked.

The laptops and computers were purchased by the department for 10 locations across the district.

“It’s an insult to families who are desperate to access technology for their children to leave brand new computers and tablets unused in boxes,” Stringer told 1010 WINS.

The audit covered eight schools in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, looking into how the city maintained inventory control over technology purchased through two separate contracts with Apple and Lenovo totaling over $197 million.

Stringer believes this to be “just the tip of the iceberg,” and will be auditing additional schools of the 1,800 citywide.

“Parents expect their kids to be ready for the 21st century and they want technology for their children,” he said.

In addition to the missing computers, the audit found 600 other laptops and computers missing from the Department of Education headquarters.  Auditors found that the DOE were not keeping completed records of computer purchases, which could be contributing to the loss of computers, or the allowance of computers to sit unused.

Auditors discovered 74 unopened laptops and tablets in a closet at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, some of them having been purchased in 2011.  Similar results were found at other schools, reports Ben Chapman for The New York Daily News.

One Bronx elementary school listed 10,307 computers or tablets on the DOE’s “Asset Management System,” yet only 10 were actually present in the building.

The department responded to the situation, saying the listing was an error and that 9,217 of those computers and tablets were actually given out to over 244 different schools.  However, when the comptroller looked into verifying that information, he found that at least 727 devices were still missing from the revised list, with over 600 of them missing from the department’s administrative offices at the Tweed Courthouse.

The corrected list was also found to have simply deleted 46 other devices, and listed another 1,044 devices as “Asset Location Unknown.”  The department said this was a “holding site code,” and that the locations were not kept up to date because while the system is capable of tracking inventory, it had not been used to keep track of where the devices were being sent, writes Jillian Jorgensen for The New York Observer.

Stringer is asking the DOE to create a centralized inventory system to better keep track of purchases and where the computers are sent.

According to the auditors, there was no evidence of anyone having broken into the schools to steal the computers, so there is a pressing need to find out what really happened.  Stringer said he plans to find every missing computer.