State audit finds that capital projects at NDSU, UND are not adequately monitoredFARGO, N.D. – Concerns about several North Dakota State University projects are raised in an audit released today.
By: Amy Dalrymple, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO, N.D. – Concerns about several North Dakota State University projects are raised in an audit released today.
The report by the Office of the State Auditor said that capital projects in the university system are not adequately monitored.
NDSU, as well as the University of North Dakota, have not complied with capital project requirements in state law and state Board of Higher Education policy, the audit concludes.
The state board has very limited to no effective monitoring related to capital projects, the audit said.
Officials at NDSU and UND failed to get approval to exceed authorized amounts for president’s houses.
Both campuses also split remodeling projects of president’s offices into smaller projects to avoid bringing them to the board.
Eight pages in the 29-page document focus on findings for NDSU, including:
* Costs and other information about the president’s house were not accurately reported. Information provided by NDSU on other projects was misleading.
* Unfinished work on projects was not presented to the board. The new president’s house has areas that were not completed. The 3,934-square-foot basement is unfinished and sod or grass around the majority of the house has not been planted.
* Inadequate planning and budgeting is leading to additional costs.
* NDSU is using public funds to make lease payments for Richard H. Barry Hall, which was approved to be funded with donations. An attorney general’s opinion has been requested on this project.
The audit also found that certain areas of the NDSU president’s house “could be considered unnecessary and added to the cost of the house.”
Examples given in the audit include portions of sidewalks that are heated, blinds in the bedrooms that are automated and outdoor restrooms.
Former President Joseph Chapman is referred to several times in the audit.
In reference to the Old Main project, the audit states: “the project appears to have been started rather quickly due to the request of the former president.”
The project cost $640,000. A kitchenette was planned in the president’s office remodel project, but removed after costs were increasing and the chancellor’s office asked questions about the costs, the audit says.
The home that the NDSU Development Foundation leased for Chapman during construction of the new home sat vacant for three months and lease payments continued to be made.
Foundation representatives indicated to auditors that Chapman wouldn’t allow the leased home to be shown to prospective buyers as required by the signed lease. As a result, lease payments had to continue after the house was vacated.
Four pages of the audit focus on UND. In addition to concerns about the president’s house and office, UND did not obtain board approval to spend more on the National Center for Hydrogen Technology.
UND also has not complied with local matching fund requirements for the O’Kelly Hall project.
The Office of the State Auditor reviewed building projects in the university system after the state board requested an audit of the president’s homes.
Auditors said improvements need to be made to ensure proper approval when projects are significantly changed or when authorized amounts are exceeded.
Dickinson State University also was found to be in noncompliance with state board policy.
Amy Dalrymple is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.