Gibson helps school systems improve their efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance through two primary service areas – Performance Audits and Internal Audits. Performance Audits include the analysis of school district’s staffing, expenditures, quality of services, process efficiency, organizational structures, and use of information systems. These projects often result in cost savings to the district’s general fund that can be redirected towards academic programming or used to reduce expected budget deficits. Instead of across the board budget cuts applied by many school systems, Gibson’s performance audits target areas of inefficiency to provide financial relief.
Gibson’s Internal Audit services are similar to its performance audit services in that they review efficiency and effectiveness at the department and program level. However, internal audits go deeper in addressing compliance, data integrity, and internal controls. Unlike many internal audit functions that focus on financial controls and risks, our approach is much broader, covering virtually every aspect of school system operations. Gibson’s internal audit programs are not “gotcha” programs that investigate people; they are continuous improvement initiatives that enhance systems and processes. Internal Audits can be conducted as single projects or as long-term improvement programs.
Below are links to examples of Gibson’s performance audit and internal audit services.
School District of Lee County, FL
Global Data Scan and Overall Efficiency Report
Gibson was engaged by the School District of Lee County (Lee County) to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the district’s major operations and programs. Gibson conducted a global data scan of district efficiency and developed an efficiency report card for each major program, administrative, and operational area. The scope of the assessment included all administrative and operational areas, including general district management, school management, human resources, business services, facilities management, technology management, food services management, and transportation Management.
Gibson worked with the administration to define performance measures for each area, collected and validated data, and calculated performance measures for Lee County and peer districts. The trend in Lee County measures over the past five years and results of peer comparisons were recorded in an efficiency report card for each of the areas above.
Clear Creek Independent School District, TX
Special Education Performance Review
Gibson was contracted by Clear Creek Independent School District (CCISD) to conduct a comprehensive review of the District’s special education programs and services. At the time of the review, CCISD’s special education student enrollment had outpaced overall student enrollment growth by a wide margin (16% compared to 5%) over the previous six years. The primary objective of Gibson’s review was to identify areas of strength within the special education department as well as opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness, in order to ultimately improve outcomes for students receiving special education services. The scope of the review included an assessment of CCISD’s special education department organizational structure and staffing allocations, financial management practices, IEP compliance, teacher qualifications and retention, as well as other areas. Gibson’s recommendations ultimately addressed a wide range of areas for improvement, ranging from the creation of a special education parent resource center to the monitoring and tracking of Response to Intervention (RTI) data.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools, MD
Gibson was selected by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) Board to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of selected functional areas within the Local Education Agency (LEA). Gibson’s scope of the performance audit included a review of the following functional areas: governance and management, senior academic management, financial management, human resources management, and information technology. Gibson made 35 recommendations to improve operating efficiency and effectiveness. Several recommendations were made that addressed challenges in all of the functional areas reviewed:
- Overhaul several elements of board governance, including the clarification of legal versus local policies, improving budget information presented to the Board, a more efficient board meeting structure, and a more consistent application of Roberts’ Rules of Order.
- Streamline business processes to reduce reliance on manual, paper-intensive processes, and integrate disparate information systems. Many areas within Financial Management and Human Resource Management were mired in paper processes, which monopolized staff time and represented increased risk to the LEA. Gibson made several process improvement recommendations to develop automated workflows and strengthen internal controls through preventive configuration controls.
- Implement performance management frameworks to hold central office departments accountable for meeting goals and objectives. Gibson noted a lack of system-wide performance measurement, which was a contributing factor to many outdated processes within the LEA.
The inefficiency in AACPS’ business processes resulted in much higher levels of clerical positions relative to its peers. The estimated cost savings associated with reducing the clerical/staff ratio to their peer average was approximately $3 million annually.
Clark County School District, NV
Educational and Operational Efficiency Assessment Study
Clark County School District (CCSD) – the fifth-largest school system in the United States – selected Gibson from among six competing firms to conduct a comprehensive educational and operational efficiency assessment. This comprehensive evaluation, conducted in a condensed timeframe (3 months), involved the identification of major cost reduction opportunities, a review of the District’s budget process, development of a data dashboard prototype for performance measure tracking, a review of educational programs and management, and a student performance review. Gibson collected and analyzed over 1,000 documents from CCSD and interviewed approximately 260 CCSD staff members. Gibson identified 45 recommendations for improvement which was estimated that, if fully implemented, would result in annual General Fund net cost reductions of approximately $52 million per year. For this project, Gibson also developed a data dashboard prototype for CCSD to use in performance measure tracking.
Hillsborough County Public Schools, FL
Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) contracted with Gibson to conduct an Educational and Operational Efficiency Audit to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the district’s major operations and programs over a 16-month period. This work was prompted by a $140 million budget deficit that needed to be addressed. Instead of across-the-board cuts, HCPS hired Gibson to make more informed budget reductions that targeted inefficient practices.
Gibson conducted this work in three phases (i.e., Phase I: Operational Audit, Major Cost Savings; Phase II: Operational Audit, Comprehensive Review; and Phase III: Academic Management Audit). Our work included the collection and analysis of extant data, staff interviews, school leader interviews, classroom walkthroughs, focus groups with various stakeholders, and comparisons to peer, state, and national data. The results of the Phase I and Phase II audits identified significant opportunities for HCPS to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its central office operations, which resulted in a net savings of $100 million per year. The findings identified during Phase III yielded several recommendations for improving the overall efficiency and effectiveness of HCPS’ instructional programs.
Killeen Independent School District
Gibson has served as the internal auditor for the Killeen ISD Board of Trustees since 2014. Similar to the arrangement with FBISD described above, Gibson reports to the Board Audit Committee (BAC) and conducts a wide range of departmental and program audits. The overall goal of the program is continuous improvement. Below are examples of internal audits conducted by Gibson for KISD.
Student Information Systems and Public Education Information Management Systems Audit
Gibson conducted an audit of Killeen Independent School District’s (KISD) student information system and state data submission functions, which included an assessment the existence and adequacy of controls, processes and procedures in place within the student information system and the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) functions. The audit also validated that the data generated by both functions are accurate and compliant with state standards. The audit team reviewed documents, and conducted process mapping sessions, interviews, focus groups, and campus visits. The audit resulted in 16 recommendations which addressed organizational misalignments, insufficiency of training, lack of automation of key processes, and lack of controls. Due to the potential impact of state funding, a comprehensive compliance analysis in “attendance taking” was conducted. The results of this analysis highlighted those schools that KISD should closely monitor and support to improve compliance with attendance reporting requirements. The recommendations resulting from this audit helped to ensure that KISD operates efficiently and mitigates financial risk due to a lack of compliance in managing student data.
Budget and Key Performance Indicator Dashboard
KISD board members were looking for an easy and dynamic way to access expenditure and staffing information during their budget discussions and approval processes without burdening the district staff with multiple requests for data and reports. Gibson developed a series of dashboards for budget analysis and key performance indicator monitoring for the KISD board members, giving them insight into the district’s planned spending and staffing. The budget analyses dashboards included analysis of the district’s global, functional, school, and administrative areas. The dashboards not only provide multi-year trend analysis for spending and staffing, but also have the capability of drilling down to the lowest available data points for in-depth analysis.
In 2019, KISD’s enrollment had been increasing annually and bus ridership had steadily outpaced enrollment growth over a five year period. To address this challenge, Gibson conducted an audit of the District’s transportation department to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of transportation services and to ensure compliance with all local, state, and federal laws. The scope of the audit included an evaluation of policies and procedures, staff and administrator certifications and qualifications, route and fuel efficiency, fleet tracking and maintenance, and budget and resource management. Gibson conducted its audit through interviews, site observations, bus ride-alongs, surveys, and district and state-level data analysis. Recommendations were made to the school board that led to improvements in compliance, organizational management and structure, operating efficiencies, and fleet management.
Fort Bend Independent School District
Gibson has served as the internal auditor for continuous improvement for Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) since 2013. The Board sought to expand the impact of its internal audit program by conducting department-level audits, and include every aspect of school system programs and operations. Under this engagement, Gibson has reported directly to the Board Audit Committee as required by state law. Below are examples of internal audit engagements for FBISD.
Academic Program Management Audit
As part of its continuing contract to provide internal auditing services to FBISD, Gibson conducted an Academic Program Management Audit in 2019-20. Beginning in 2016, FBISD launched an entire curriculum re-write for all K-12 content areas. Additionally, the district implemented a new learning management system (Schoology) to house and deliver the new curriculum. The primary objective of the project was to assess the management and implementation of academic programming – with a focus on FBISD’s new initiatives – and ensure that resource utilization was being maximized. The scope of the audit focused on several key areas: effectiveness of instructional leadership and academic program management, quality of professional learning and supports, strategies around performance management, and an evaluation of FBISD’s curriculum management, instruction, and assessments. Gibson conducted its audit through data analysis, interviews, and surveys, delivering its recommendations to FBISD’s school board, which ranged from strategies for campus leaders’ development of teachers to change management practices to improve the implementation of district-wide initiatives.
Construction Management Internal Audits
Gibson has conducted three internal audits of FBISD’s construction management function since 2014. The first audit was of the entire construction management function. This audit was different from a typical internal audit in that it was “preemptive,” meaning the focus was more on evaluating the readiness of the district’s construction management function for a $484 million bond program. Procedures for this audit included the review of department organization, the bidding and award process, execution and administration of contracts, change order procedures, and budget control. The audit team evaluated applicable board policies and district procedures and controls for construction management, including management reporting. The audit also included a review of district processes to determine whether opportunities for efficiency improvements exist. Gibson performed limited audit testing of historical construction projects to better understand current processes and to corroborate information obtained through interviews and document reviews. Eleven recommendations resulted from this audit. The major recommendations included:
- Modify project reporting to provide more detail regarding changes to schedule and specifications, as well as increased status reporting. Additional data would increase oversight and equip FBISD with the data to hold contractors accountable for performance.
- Develop or update existing standards for design and safety. Current design standards help ensure that FBISD is in compliance with law and that schools are constructed in ways that align to their academic goals and philosophies. Safety standards must be developed and enforced for job sites, particularly at active school sites.
- Maximize the use of availability technology within invoice processing and overall project management. Efficiencies and increased reporting capabilities could be realized by re-engineering the contractor payment process and using a comprehensive Project Management Information System.
Gibson also conducted a follow-up audit of these recommendations. Gibson interviewed staff responsible for implementing the recommendations, and reviewed and verified the actions taken by FBISD in response to the recommendations. Gibson’s follow-up audit found that all of the recommendations made in the initial audit report had been fully implemented.
The purpose of the third audit was to monitor the district’s oversight of a third-party program manager, ensuring compliance with the District’s Design and Construction Procedures Manual, and adhering to the Program Management Plan. Using direct access to the Project Management Information System used by the third-party program manager and FBISD, Gibson audited program information, activities, and reporting directly from the system, all of which led to the development of five recommendations for the district. This audit helped FBISD proactively identify a campus that was at-risk for not opening by the beginning of the school year. Other recommendations focused on increasing progress reporting requirements for the third-party and improving internal controls over site observation activities and documentation.
Internal Audit Recommendation Implementation Dashboard
The FBISD Board Audit Committee (BAC) was looking for a consolidated way to track the implementation status of various audits that have been performed as part of its internal audit program. Gibson developed a secure, web-based interactive dashboard for the FBISD board members so they are able to monitor the implementation status of all recommendations made in audits and follow-up audits. In addition, the Board members are able to access supporting documentation that the management has provided that provides evidence that recommendations have been implemented. Because the internal audit implementation dashboard consolidates all internal audit implementation status information into a single portal, BAC members are able to provide effective oversight of the internal audit program.
Hays Consolidated Independent School District
Academic Program Management Audit
Conducted as a part of our long-term internal audit agreement with Hays Consolidated Independent School District, this audit focused on the management processes, school-level practices, automated tools, and the accountability mechanisms used to support the academic program at Hays Consolidated Independent School District.
We analyzed six major areas of academic management including curriculum implementation fidelity, student data analysis and use, instructional resources and support, teacher observation and evaluation, teacher professional development, and academic program management and decision-making.
Our approach involved the analysis and the corroboration of data from multiple sources including district-provided data, teacher surveys, interviews with central office staff, teacher and principal focus group sessions, and classroom observations.
Our recommendations included changes to academic program organization structure, decision-making framework, student data analysis, classroom observation protocols, lesson plans, teacher professional development, and procedures through which curriculum implementation is monitored.
Austin Independent School District
Risk Assessment and Long-Range Plan
In conjunction with the Austin Independent School District’s Internal Audit department, Gibson performed a comprehensive risk assessment for Austin Independent School District as part of the pilot phase of the partnership between the Texas Association of School Boards and Gibson.
The project included over 40 interviews with Austin Independent School District staff and members of the Board of Trustees. We assisted the Internal Audit department in developing its long-range audit plan and FY 2012-13 audit schedule. Austin Independent School District contracted further with Gibson to help the district transition its internal audit function from its pre-existing narrow focus towards an expanded scope of coverage that included all programmatic and operational areas of the school system.