Categorized | Education

DOE tackling inefficiencies as part of transformation


As public schools begin a new year, the state Department of Education will keep part of its focus on investigating inefficiencies to enhance operations statewide. The DOE revealed a new analysis aimed at improving development of school facilities.

A review of the DOE’s Facilities Development Branch (FDB) was presented before the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) Audit Committee. The analysis is based on the DOE/BOE strategic plan to locate and correct inefficiencies as directed by Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

The review on FDB analyzed processes and controls related to specific construction, repair and maintenance activities against leading industry practices. It noted a number of findings and made recommendations for improvement.

“There is always an on-going need for improving or building additional facilities to support our students, and we need to make the best use of our capital improvement dollars. That’s why we commissioned a thorough review to help us better manage projects as we go forward,” Matayoshi said. “The findings of this review clearly indicate that outdated policies and procedures are prolonging many projects. Our department will work with all interested stakeholders to correct long-term challenges and address the recommendations.”

According to the report, “Inefficiencies in capital planning, construction building, and construction management limit FDB’s ability to maximize use of its biennium budget to repair, maintain, and construct new school facilities throughout the state.”

Other findings include:

* FDB does not sufficiently leverage technology to streamline the project and construction management process

* Lack of effective communication within FDB leading to setbacks

* Insufficient master planning

“Our Strategic Plan has three major components: Student Achievement; Staff Development and Systems of Support improvements,” BOE Chairman Don Horner said. “This latest audit is part of the overall Plan to make much needed long-term and systemic improvements in how to more effectively and efficiently build and repairs our schools in the future.”

Matayoshi directed the DOE’s Internal Audit Office (IA) to assist in the scope to perform a Process and Internal Controls Review of FDB and to administer the procurement of those services.

Following a request for proposal, Deloitte & Touche LLP was contracted in June 2011. The company summed up its findings and recommendations before the BOE Audit Committee.

In February, IA presented its audit of the DOE’s food services program. Its review focused on the design and operating effectiveness of existing control procedures.

The DOE has since taken corrective action based on the recommendations of that review.

Independent of all other departments within the DOE, the IA reports directly to the Superintendent and the BOE Audit Committee. IA reports quarterly on the status of audits and recommendations.

Last year, an audit of the DOE student bus transportation services surfaced a number of inefficiencies in contract procedures and fiscal mismanagement. Several changes have been made based on recommendations of that audit.

The DOE also began this school year with its Get On Board initiative, a multi-year, multi-faceted commitment to reform its public school student bus transportation system.

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