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Howard County Board of Education Chair issues apology to state auditors

Posted at 12:20 PM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 12:20:02-05

Board of Education of Howard County Chairman Christine O'Connor apologized to state legislative auditors for the tone of her letter in response to the audit report on the Howard County Public School System.

In her letter dated November 17, O'Connor wrote, "we sincerely apologize for the tone of our letter. We agree that is important to now focus on the content of the report and the steps necessary to address your audit findings and recommendations."

The Office of Legislative Audits conducted an audit of the financial management practices of the Howard County Public School System and released a 49-paged report on October 17.

Related: Audit of Howard County Public Schools finds money mismanagement

Auditors found that Howard County Public Schools awarded more than $12 million in contracts for projects without using competitive bids, and failed to adequately secure its computer network to protect critical information. Salaries for 142 administrative employees hadn’t been approved, according to the audit, with insufficient documentation of payroll and personnel transactions.

In a letter dated September 30, O'Connor responded to the draft report, calling the state auditors, "inexperienced staff who were both inadequately supervised and appeared not to understand Maryland law financial management best practices."

She went on to say that the auditors, "stubbornly resisted acknowledging the sound business practices we use," and they, "appeared to have a predetermined bias to certain findings and recommendations."

The letter continues by adding that, "we believe the audit delivered limited value at best; diverted attention from meaningful and important school system initiatives and operations; and overall was a disservice to the state and HCPSS in our joint efforts to ensure accountability and improve performance."

In her follow-up letter O'Connor thanked the Office of Legislative Audits for the scope and content of the work performed by the office and said they've implemented all 31 recommendations from the technology audit.

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