2014 Maryland State Audit Calls for Better Use of Transportation Funds

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

A Financial Management Practices Audit Report dated February 2014 identified 23 areas of needed improvement in the internal controls and cost-effective processes and policies of Prince George’s County Public Schools. The audit was performed by the Office of Legislative Services of the Maryland General Assembly, with field work being conducted in 2011 and 2012.

Highlighted in the report were recommendations for improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of bus transportation services. From page one of the report:

We found that PGCPS did not use its automated bus routing software to ensure the efficient use of its fleet of 1,146 buses. Furthermore, since the data contained in the routing system appeared to be unreliable and other manual processes were not effective, PGCPS was unable to assess bus utilization.

It was also noted that as of October 31, 2012, drivers had not completed the reports (“manifests”) necessary to determine the level of bus utilization for the school year.

Recommendations for improvement included using an automated routing system to improve efficiency, ensuring the accuracy of routing system data, obtaining manifests for all bus runs, and providing policy guidance for determining and revising bus routes.

In its official response (found in Appendix A of the audit report), PGCPS indicated that it had been using routing software for several years. Moreover, software updates and improvements had been made since the auditors had concluded their field work in 2012, resulting in significant reductions in the number of bus routes used to transport students.

However, PGCPS conceded the need to develop detailed policies and procedures for determining and revising bus routes, stating its intent to develop Standard Operating Procedures for this purpose, to be drafted in 2014 and fully adopted during the 2015-2016 school year. It was also noted that GPS units were installed on all buses in 2013. This would provide information about planned vs. actual bus routes.

The PGCPS response identified a targeted cost per student of $1,150, stating that “metrics addressing costs and efficiency in transportation have been added to the district’s Master Plan.” According to PGCPS’s response statement, training scheduled for the spring of 2014 was intended to help staff better plan routes for the 2014-2015 school year.
For the full Financial Management Practices Audit Report, go here.

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