By Laila Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 2,200 computers purchased for New York City schools are missing or stashed away in closets and never used, according to an audit released by the city comptroller on Tuesday.
The audit of the New York City Department of Education sampled only nine of more than 1,700 city schools and one administration building, sparking fears that millions of dollars worth of devices are unaccounted for citywide, Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a statement.
“It is an insult to families who are desperate to access technology for their children to leave brand new computers and tablets unused in closets and storage facilities,” Stringer said in a statement.
“If auditors can’t locate an average of 180 computers per DOE location, this may be just the tip of the iceberg," he said.
More than 1,800 Apple and Lenovo laptop and desktop computers purchased between 2011 and 2013 for the sampled schools were unaccounted for while nearly 400 were found unopened and stored away, Stringer said.
The audit also found that 253 tablets purchased for the schools were missing.
Stringer faulted the education department's lax hardware tracking system, which generally only records purchasing information but not whether the devices are being used at the schools, for the missing or idle devices.
He recommended the department create a centralized tracking system.
In response to the findings, the education department said it was working to track the devices during its yearly inventory processes and to create a new hardware management system.
The education department spent nearly $200 million on computers and tablets during its 2012-2013 fiscal year for all school sites, Stringer said.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bill Trott)