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An Audit Report on Deferred Maintenance for the School for the Deaf

October 2015

Report Number 16-008

Overall Conclusion

The School for the Deaf (School) generally ensured that it spent state appropriations for repair and rehabilitation for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 in accordance with statute and state purchasing requirements, and that it spent all the funds on repairs or rehabilitation expenses. However, the School should strengthen its procurement processes to ensure that it obtains competitive bids for purchases when required by state law.

School management stated that, in compliance with the School's record retention schedule, it had destroyed the supporting documentation for its expenditures for fiscal years 2004 through 2011. Because that documentation was necessary to verify the accuracy of the School's accounting data, auditors were not able to test expenditure data related to appropriations for repair and rehabilitation for fiscal years prior to fiscal year 2012 or to verify whether the School completed certain repair and rehabilitation projects prior to fiscal year 2012.

The School received approximately $6.9 million in state appropriations for repair and rehabilitation during fiscal years 2004 through 2013 and expended approximately $5.5 million of those funds. In fiscal year 2010, the School chose to return approximately $1.4 million of its repair and rehabilitation appropriations to pay its part of a required statewide 5 percent budget reduction.

The School received $707,680 (31.8 percent) of the $2,227,303 in repair and rehabilitation appropriations that it had requested for the 2012-2013 biennium. Of the eight projects for which the School received funds for the 2012-2013 biennium, auditors determined that the School had fully completed seven projects and did not complete one project, which is consistent with the School's management's statements to the Legislature. In addition, the School completed four unplanned projects during that time period.

Although the School addressed some health and safety issues through repairs and rehabilitation, State Fire Marshal's Office inspection reports from fiscal years 2013 and 2014 show the existence of significant campuswide fire deficiencies during that time period. Some of the identified fire safety issues remain and, as of January 2015, the State Fire Marshal's Office required eight of the School's buildings to be patrolled by dedicated staff members looking for potential ignition sources, other hazards, or fires to compensate for identified fire safety deficiencies.

To gain a better understanding of the nature of the fire safety risks that existed on the School's campus, auditors performed walkthroughs and examined 21 of the School's 35 fire alarm system control panels (control panels) in September 2015 and October 2015, including the control panels in the eight buildings under the "fire watch."

Auditors observed that 17 of the 21 control panels had deficiencies that the State Fire Marshal's Office had previously identified. None of those deficiencies indicated that an entire building's fire alarm systems were inoperable. Additionally, auditors did not observe any deficiencies that would hinder a building's control panel from notifying either the School's campus security or the fire department. Instead, the documented deficiencies presented varied levels of life safety risks to building occupants. Auditors also observed that the Texas Facilities Commission, which is now responsible for repairs and rehabilitation of School facilities, had addressed some identified fire safety violations from fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

Auditors communicated less significant issues related to purchasing, user access, and preventive maintenance separately in writing to School management.

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