Digital devices like laptop computers, tablets and monitors in New York schools are not being properly kept track of and can be subject to theft or damage, an audit by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office found.

The audit released on Thursday assessed the policies of 20 school districts, determining many of their information technology offices could not readily locate many of the assets.

“The COVID-19 pandemic forced school districts to quickly adapt to a new environment, using technology to move to remote and hybrid learning,” DiNapoli said. “This required spending significant money on IT assets. District officials need to ensure these devices are tracked and protected so taxpayers know their money isn’t being squandered.”

Conducted from July 1, 2019 to March 31, 2022, the audit found more than 20% of technology assets in schools not properly accounted for, a value of $280,000.

Inventory records at 20 school districts were used by auditors to examine more than 95,000 entries, finding nearly 4,400 were missing or had duplicated serial numbers. About 4,800 pieces of equipment were missing locations or names of assigned workers.

Eight of the 20 school districts were found to not have proper protections from keeping equipment lost or damaged. And none of the districts had implement policies for properly tracking inventory in IT departments.

The comptroller's office recommended better tracking policies for IT inventory as well as having annual reviews of equipment and updating records. Auditors also recommended schools develop a process to retrieve student devices when they leave a school.