An audit of travel expenses at the New York City education department reveals that the school system botched more than $20 million in travel expenses, including unnecessary payouts to lavish hotels for meetings that could have easily been held on school sites.
Controller Scott Stringer’s tally of 2017 travel vouchers filed by employees found staffers failed to follow regulations for 93 percent of travel expenses, potentially costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Among the problems Stringer found in his deep dive into a representative sample of roughly $1 million in travel expenses were: $14,023 in overpayments, including $11,913 to the glitzy New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge; $233,167 for meetings in hotels and other venues with no effort, as required by rules, to find free or low-cost space in school buildings; $269,684 in purchases that lacked required written bids, including a $17,847 catering bill; and $14,956 in credit-card charges with no supporting documentation.
Education department spokesman Doug Cohen pointed to tougher expense-reporting procedures, more staff training, and implementation of the audit’s recommendations.
A version of this article appeared in the December 12, 2018 edition of Education Week as New York City School Officials Blew Millions in Travel Expenses, Audit Finds