Thousands of Department of Education-purchased computers and tablets are either missing or sitting unused in the city's schools, according to an audit by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Mr. Stringer's office surveyed 10 public schools and found that more than 1,800 computers were unaccounted for or missing entirely, while nearly 400 laptops and tablets were found unpacked and unused. These findings raise the possibility that millions of dollars in computer equipment for city schools could be missing, the comptroller said.
"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," Mr. Stringer said in a statement. "If auditors can’t locate an average of 180 computers per school, this may be just the tip of the iceberg."
Auditors examined how DOE maintained controls over computer hardware purchased through two separate contracts with Apple and Lenovo entered in September 2009 and July 2011, respectively. The contracts have been used to purchase more than 211,000 computers and tablets worth north of $197 million as of September 2014.
Most of the missing computers—1,090—were listed as "asset location unknown" from one school, P.S. 168 in the Bronx, by the DOE. The remaining 727 missing computers were physically missing from nine other schools.
Auditors also found large caches of computers sitting unused in school closets. At Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, 78 laptops and iPads, some purchased in 2011, were found unopened.