City Audit of Hartford Schools Finds No Financial Irregularities
City Reviewed Schools' Credit Card Expenses
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
June 28, 2013
HARTFORD — An audit of the school system's spending on city-issued credit cards found no financial irregularities, according to a report released Friday.
The city's analysis of procurement card expenses followed recent audits of the Hartford Public Library and Hartford Parking Authority, which also revealed no issues in their p-card spending that would "warrant disclosure or management's attention," those reports stated.
All three audits were completed in June. While Hartford officials have described them as routine, they followed a city commission's review of credit card spending that proved embarrassing to city hall. Jared Kupiec, who resigned as chief of staff this month, initially charged a $707.21 food bill to taxpayers for an eight-person dinner of oysters, caviar and rack of lamb on New Year's Eve.
In May, the internal audit commission recommended a ban on city credit card use for business-related entertainment and called for better oversight. Mayor Pedro Segarra, who attended the New Year's Eve dinner, agreed to the ban and said he supported auditing city spending.
No problems were discovered in the city's review of Hartford Public Schools' p-card expenses, Deputy Chief Auditor Craig Trujillo said.
"We are pleased to report that the results of our audit disclosed operations to be satisfactory as transactions were appropriate and fully supported," according to the report that Trujillo sent Friday afternoon to school officials, city council members, Segarra and members of the internal audit commission.
The review focused on the current fiscal year that ends Sunday.
Fifty-five administrators in the school system — most of them school principals — have the city credit cards and typically use them for buying school supplies, Trujillo said. Their spending limits range from $5,000 to $10,000.
Over an 11-month period, there were 3,244 purchases totaling about $819,120, "with an average transaction cost of about $253," the report stated. Auditors analyzed 200 purchases totaling $203,619.
Trujillo recommended that the school system strengthen its p-card policy by requiring that the schools' chief financial officer, Paula Altieri, approve any purchasing of gift cards. Altieri agreed to insert that language in the district's policy.
Trujillo said there was one instance this fiscal year in which $5,000 worth of Target gift cards were purchased and distributed to principals for buying backpacks and lunch bags for students. That money originally came from a $5,000 donation from Target, and Altieri authorized the transaction.
"It's not taxpayers' money," Trujillo said. "It's Target's money … That was fully documented."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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