Last night, Florida TaxWatch, the state’s independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute & government watchdog, presented its review of the Broward County School District’s SMART Program report for the quarter ending on December 31, 2016. The report includes 28 findings and 16 recommendations, which were elaborated on by Florida TaxWatch’s Vice President of Research, Bob Nave.
In response to previous Florida TaxWatch recommendations, the District’s facility construction reports have become more transparent, and now include more project-specific information on construction activities at District schools. The District continues to make progress, with more and more projects becoming financially active.
However, reports of cost overruns and delayed projects by the District are deeply concerning.
“The public has a right to know which projects are behind schedule and over budget, and what the District is doing to minimize delays and cost overruns. TaxWatch will continue to work with the District and the Bond Oversight Committee to make sure the public’s right to know is well-served.” said Nave.
Among the 16 recommendations within the TaxWatch review are numerous calls to increase transparency on a number of projects that are either delayed or over budget and recommends the District address the public and the Bond Oversight Committee on its plans to mitigate these issues.
Other recommendations include taking money saved as a result of the District’s efficient procurement of technology improvements and facilities construction and reallocate it to other critical needs, in addition to including a summary of contracts awarded to minority/women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) and information pertaining to the number of these contracts. TaxWatch also recommends that the District step ups efforts to recruit and retain qualified MWBEs.
In November 2014, Broward County voters approved an $800 million bond referendum to renovate and repair Broward’s aging school facilities, upgrade school safety and security systems and purchase new computers and educational technology. Broward Schools’ Superintendent Robert Runcie appointed a bond oversight committee to encourage greater accountability, transparency, public support and confidence in the use of the general obligation bond funds.
Superintendent Runcie asked Florida TaxWatch to provide research and analyses to the bond oversight committee to aid them in effective oversight of the bond process. In our limited role performing a watchdog function, Florida TaxWatch will produce and present a research report on industry and national “best practices” to help the committee lay the foundation for its oversight of the bond-funded capital outlay program.
Read the full list of findings and recommendations by Florida TaxWatch here