Why a Bank Should Be in the Business of School Supplies
By Lilia M. Torres Torres, Puerto Rico Department of Education, Secretary of Administration December 17, 2013 10:57 AM
Nearly 450,000 students rely on the Puerto Rico Department of Education: From pencils to hearing aids, we are the country's biggest buyer of education equipment. In the past, our purchasing process has been cumbersome, and students often had to wait months for critical supplies.
The Puerto Rico Department of Education is financially supported by the Central Government of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Government, and spending is monitored and audited by local and federal authorities, who demand transparent, efficient and auditable administration of funds. Working with government officials to create a purchasing card program, Citi provided our school administrators better buying flexibility and offered an easier way for us to track funds. Local vendors are now paid more quickly and students receive materials faster than ever before.
In fact, two purchasing card programs were developed: the School Program, which allows school directors to perform regular and emergency purchases, and the Special Education Program, which provides school facilitators direct access to funds for medical-related goods for disadvantaged students.
School directors' hands-on involvement with the purchase process has resulted in exemplary school budget management by making the best use of funds received according to their local needs. Special Education students currently receive an unsurpassed level of treatment and their needs are addressed in a sensible manner. The purchase process has been greatly simplified, and, since suppliers receive their payments immediately, their service and attention to the schools have dramatically improved.
The purchase process reengineering and the use of purchasing cards have given us the flexibility, transparency and controls that we needed. They have also drastically changed the ability of schools to obtain timely access to materials and services that are fundamental to support our ultimate goal - educating Puerto Rico's children.
To learn more about how Citi has utilized innovative technology and financial tools to help city leaders overcome challenges within their education systems, visit Citi for Cities.
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