Statement on Financial Transparency
Metro Schools believes financial transparency is critical to improving fiscal responsibility throughout the district. That’s why we have strict procedures in place requiring every purchase order (PO) follow district policy. 99.2% of all POs follow our strict guidelines – just .8% fall outside the norm. Those that fall outside the norm are called unauthorized purchase requests (UPRs).
UPRs are used all over the district, especially in schools where access to proper signatures in a timely manner, may not be readily available.
Here are some examples of real-world UPRs:
- A PO was unattainable because the purchase occurred outside regular business hours.
- Example - a teacher registered for a professional development meeting approved by the principal on a Saturday, just before the registration deadline closed that weekend.
- The purchase was critical to the work of the school or district.
- Example - The temperature is falling and a maintenance worker needs a specific tool to fix the HVAC system, but does not have it available to them, so they pick it up from a contracted supplier and are invoiced after the fact.
- The purchase exceeded the amount of a PO that was previously closed.
- Example - The number of students taking Cambridge tests exceeded the initial PO value and the initial invoice matches the PO. It is paid and the PO is closed. Weeks later an additional invoice arrives but a new PO has to be issued to receive against. Again, the sequence of the PO and invoice differ from policy and a UPR is needed to document the process variance.
These purchases are not illegal or inappropriate in any way. They highlight a PO that needs proper paperwork follow up as an additional safeguard. UPRs also serve as documentation for auditors.
MNPS has been self-monitoring since 2015. In that time, we’ve tightened our standards and increased training surrounding POs. In 2018, UPRs are trending to be flat—we expect UPRs to fall as education continues in the district and we ensure all employees adhere to proper expense reporting.
We want to exceed great expectations, even in our financial reporting. With that in mind, our finance department has enacted measures to track all purchases throughout the district – an important aspect of that tracking are UPRs. We will continue to implement transparent and accountable monitoring practices because it’s the right thing to do.