The State Auditor has released a follow-up to its 2012 report on the state Department of Education’s transportation woes. That audit slammed the DOE for numerous problems related to how it managed its school bus services and made 20 recommendations for improvement.
The follow-up, released Thursday, noted that eight of the recommendations have been satisfied but the rest are still in progress in some fashion.
The 2012 audit followed Civil beat’s investigative series on skyrocketing school bus costs and mismanagement. “Taken for a Ride” reported extensively on the department’s transportation budget, which climbed from $25 million a year to more than $72 million a year in just six years. One significant finding: school bus companies abruptly stopped bidding against each other and the DOE began accepting the bids without question.
As the Auditor found, school officials acknowledged the rising costs could have been the result of collusion. The Auditor documented lax procurement policies as contributing to the costs but found numerous other problems as well, including no real good way to track routes and how buses were being utilized. Staff overseeing the bus companies were not qualified, the auditor found.
The follow-up audit reports that the DOE has developed standard operating procedures and is in the process of implementing a computerized route-planning system. Improved procurement practices are in place although the auditor noted the agency still has not created policies to deal with suspected anticompetitive practices.
School buses operated by Roberts Hawaii
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Patti Epler is the Editor and General Manager of Civil Beat. She's been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, primarily in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Arizona. You can follow her on twitter at @PattiEpler, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 808-377-0561.