Asset Management and Education Compliance – The More You Know

iStock_000034454270

Using Barcode Technology For Education Grant Compliance

Innocent mistakes and minor thefts can often add up to big losses. An investigation by CBS in Philadelphia uncovered $88,000 in missing equipment from a random education compliance check of only 125 items at 10 schools. If those numbers hold for the whole city, the value of lost equipment would be over $2 million.

As Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz explained to CBS, “Whether they were actually taken or whether the school district just didn’t know where they were causes the same problem because they have to be replaced or else kids are not given the equipment they need to get a proper education.”

More organized theft is also a problem. In San Diego, an ABC inquiry found a spike in mass iPad thefts, in addition to more run of the mill loses and minor thefts. According to Crawford High School Interim Principal Debra Maxie, thieves were stealing cartloads of iPads right off the school’s campus.


Related Article: 4 Reasons Education Needs Asset Tracking

Perhaps the most dangerous and hardest to catch issue is fraud. Especially when committed by an internal employee. When ABC in Progeso, Texas examined the asset’s of the local school district they couldn’t find $80,000 worth of equipment that had supposedly been purchased. The employee responsible for the purchase was “buying” the equipment for his own computer company.

Tracking assets isn’t just important to prevent losses, schools also have strict reporting requirements when it comes to federal, state, and local funding and financial donations. They need to be able to show that they are using the money and goods for the purposes they are intended and that they are taking good care of those assets. Failure to do so can lead to lost grant money.

call-to-action-810x75-c

In Philadelphia they are trying to solve their asset mismanagement by freezing access to funds for those schools that can’t explain what happened to the missing items. Fernando Gallard, the district’s chief of communications, told CBS, “So if you are getting a grant and you’re not compliant with the accounting of those materials that you have purchased, then the next grant you get we are going to freeze your money so you aren’t able to purchase more items.”

The Burdens of Compliance

Compliance with asset reporting requirements for schools can be time consuming and expensive. Typically, school administrators need to be able to account for an asset’s whereabouts, condition, and current value for auditors and funders.

At Ganada Central School District, the district would hire two college students to conduct annual audits. It would take the students 4 weeks to manually inventory fixed assets using a laptop and an Excel spreadsheet. Fixing the Excel spreadsheet would take full time IT administrators additional time, and adding assets during the year frequently took hours.

Ganada’s Director of Technology Brenda Lehman found the process slow, expensive, clunky, and vulnerable to mistakes. She never felt comfortable with the Excel spreadsheet and when auditors came her anxiety spiked.

For Miami public schools compliance is crucial for grant funding. District leaders need to be able to account for their purchases to ensure continued funding. Miami Public Schools IT Coordinator Jason Garrison explains, “It is a big deal to make sure grant dollars are being spent properly. If something is purchased with special education dollars, it has to physically stay in the special education department.”

The Miami school system was using an honor system to track assets but it wasn’t working. Teachers and IT often needed to spend hours or days tracking down codes that had been entered incorrectly when audit time came and items weren’t where they were supposed to be. It could take the district up to 12 weeks to complete an inventory for an audit. According to Garrison, “After running a report, we would discover that the wrong numbers had been reported. We wasted a lot of time following up with teachers for missing information.”

When schools are using outdated systems, like Excel or pen and paper, to try and track assets, compliance is time-consuming and costly. Even worse, the systems are often filled with mistakes that can be almost impossible to catch.
iStock_000036373976

Easing the Burden With Education Asset Management Best Practices

When education asset management best practices are put in place, schools can easily meet compliance requirements. They can often save time and money in the process.

Education asset management best practices involve using the best technology and asset tracking systems available and implementing guidelines and policies that will prevent theft and misconduct. Like purchasing guidelines that make it clear school employees can’t purchase products from their own companies.

Effective Asset Tracking

  • Barcode Based System – barcode based systems, like Wasp MobileAsset.EDU, allow schools to create individualized barcodes for each asset. These can be scanned eliminating human data entry and the information can be quickly uploaded to a central database, ensuring the item is accounted for and can be found when needed.
  • Mobile Inventory Scanning – using mobile scanning devices increases efficiency and reduces time spent inputting barcode data. It allows users to instantly upload their data to the central database.
  • Central User Database – a shared, central database allows multiple users from multiple locations to check on the status of assets. This reduces the risk of fraud and enables live updates that reflect current asset locations and conditions instead of static Excel spreadsheets that can only be updated at set times by one person.
  • User Tracking Accountability – barcode technology allows you to track system users so you can see who scanned what or who accessed and changed the central user database. This is critical for fraud prevention and to ensure employees are acting responsibly and working well.

Policies and Guidelines

  • Security Policies – Once you are effectively tracking your assets it is also important to make sure you have effective security policies in place. This includes making sure teachers lock rooms, you have some degree of video or human surveillance in place, and you don’t allow people free access to valuable, mobile assets.
  • Purchasing Guidelines – To ensure that purchasers and administrators are not committing fraud or operating under conflicts of interest it is critical to have clear guidelines explaining how vendors should be selected, how purchases should be documented and recorded, and what will happen to the items purchased when they arrive. This will make sure no one can say they didn’t know when they were acting improperly.

If you use these asset tracking practices and set up these policies and guidelines you can quickly take control of your school’s assets.

When Brenda Lehman at Ganada started using a Wasp barcode system to track her assets, she found an immediate reduction in time and money spent to complete an inventory. A process that took two employees four weeks could now be completed in 1 week. Even better, with the new barcode technology based system, the school achieved a 99% accuracy rate. And her auditor anxiety is gone completely.

For the Miami School District, putting a Wasp Barcode system in place has reduced annual audit time from 12 weeks (480 hours) to less than one week (36 hours). It’s increased accuracy and allows teachers to access a centralized database to input information and locate assets. If IT Coordinator Jason Garrison has it his way, “My goal is to get every teacher in every classroom using the system. Each school will have its own printer and mobile device – connected to one central database managed district-wide.”

A good education is invaluable and having the assets on hand that you need to create that education experience is also invaluable. Using the right asset management best practices you can ensure you always know where your school supplies are.

How would adding an asset management system help your school to track expensive educational assets?

No related content found.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

Rate this article

Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
Asset Management and Education Compliance - The More You Know, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
Brad Vinson

Brad Vinson

Product Marketing Manager at Wasp Barcode Technologies
Brad Vinson is a Product Marketing Manager at Wasp, responsible for development and execution of the MobileAsset solutions.
Brad Vinson
Brad Vinson