Accountability Audit of the Department of Education: Analysis of Selected
Report No. 00-14
This audit is our sixth
fiscal accountability audit of the Department of Education. This time we
demonstrated the kinds of information that can be generated by a tool like In$ite _ The
Financial Analysis Model for Education. Such information could assist
in making decision about the public school system. We applied In$ite
to the educational expenditures for FY1998-99 to determine per pupil
spending, school-by-school spending, and spending by such functions as
instruction and instructional support. We also assessed the department's
expenditure reports that are required by Section 302A-1004, HRS.
is a computer software program designed to report educational expenditures
by location, function, and program. Inputting data obtained from the
department into In$ite, we generated a number of reports and
analyzed the potential for these reports to provide essential information to
facilitate decision making about the public school system. We found that In$ite
reports can provide useful information for:
Recommendations and Response
We also examined the extent
to which the Department of Education met the fiscal accountability reporting
requirements specified in Section 302A-1004, HRS. While the department met
the requirements, we found that the department's reports were not as useful
and detailed as those produced by In$ite. The department's reports
only allowed for limited comparative analysis. Moreover, the department's
procedure for providing expenditure information needs improvement.
Finally, we found that
provisions of Section 302A-1004, HRS, do not meet the reporting requirements
intended in Act 199, Session Laws of Hawaii 1999. As a result, meaningful
comparison of expenditures by schools, programs and functions is not
We recommended that the
Board of Education require the Department of Education to provide reports of
greater detail similar to those produced by In$ite _ The Financial
Analysis Model for Education. We also recommended that the
Legislature expand the reporting requirements under Section 302A-1004(b),
HRS, to include meaningful comparisons of expenditures. The reporting
requirements should include, at a minimum, program expenditure and per pupil
costs by location, function, sub-function, and program.
The department responded
that it appreciates our findings on its reports and compliance with Section
302A-1004, HRS. This, however, was simply our observation not our findings.
We reiterate that our finding is that the department's expenditure reports
were not as useful and detailed as those available in In$ite.
The department also
responded that it agrees with our perspective on analyzing fiscal data and
will provide reports of greater detail similar to those produced by In$ite
to the Legislature and the Board of Education. We emphasize here that this
is a major shift by the department in finally acknowledging that our
information is more useful.
While acknowledging that the
analysis of selected expenditures might stimulate useful dialogue on
educational policy, programs, and practices, the department was concerned
that overly simplistic answers may result. However, our analyses are
intended to demonstrate how programs such as In$ite can provide
the information needed to conduct more detailed examinations.
Finally, the department
contends that our office is advocating the use of In$ite and
implied that the program is outdated. In$ite, similar to other
types of software programs, has been upgraded since its 1995 introduction.
We also reiterate and emphasize that while we found that the In$ite
program can provide very useful information for decisionmakers, we recommend
that a program similar to In$ite be used by the department.