February 4, 1997
Colleen M. Fennell, Ed.D.
Wynantskill Union Free School District
P.O. Box 345
Wynantskill, NY 12198-0345
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
Dear Dr. Fennell:
I have received your letter of January 3 in which you requested an advisory opinion concerning the following issue:
"Is the Management Letter of the annual School District Audit Report a public document and required to be given to the public or may it be viewed as a confidential document separate from the Audit Report."
In this regard, as you are likely aware, §30 of the General Municipal Law requires that every municipal corporation and school district is required to make an annual report of its financial condition to the State Comptroller. Section 35 of the General Municipal Law states in subdivision (1) that:
"A report of such examination shall be made and shall be filed in the office of the state comptroller...An additional copy thereof shall be filed with the chief fiscal officer, except that in the case of a school district, such additional copy shall be filed in the office of the chairman of the board of trustees, the president of the board of education or the sole trustee, as the case may be. When so filed, each such report and copy thereof shall be a public record open to inspection by any interested person."
Subdivision (2)(a) of §35 makes specific reference to management letters and states in relevant part that:
"Within ten days after the filing of a report of examination performed by the office of the state comptroller, a report of an external audit performed by an independent public accountant or any management letter prepared in conjunction with such an external audit with the clerk of the municipal corporation, industrial development agency, district, agency or activity, or with the secretary if there is no clerk, he shall give public notice thereof...and that the (report of examination performed by the office of the state comptroller or report of, or management letter prepared in conjunction with, the external audit by the independent public accountant) has been filed in my office [sic] where it is available as a public record for inspection by all interested persons."
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that a management letter must be made available to the public.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman