BISMARCK — North Dakota State Auditor Josh Gallion released audit results Tuesday, Aug. 6, that found the information technology arm of the North Dakota University System didn't seek formal bidding for several contracts totaling about $3.2 million.
The audit covered July 2016 to June 2018. Gallion said the noncompliant contracts, mostly for software, essentially were renewed after they ended without required rebidding or without university system officials spelling out reasoning for "sole source" purchases.
By state law, the state Board of Higher Education may determine policy with the Office of Management and Budget for the university system's purchasing.
Services worth $100,000 or more must be purchased through a formal bid process or request for proposal, with contracts not to exceed a 10-year term. The five contracts ranged from $190,000 to $1.6 million.
Without formal bids, the University System missed out on competitive pricing and potentially "the best deal," according to Gallion.
"Are there other companies out there? Are there other opportunities where we could have procured services for a lesser price?" he said. "That's why we have a lot of these processes in place. It forces us to go back and revisit to ensure, again, the taxpayers aren't overpaying for these services."
The University System's IT arm in response to the audit disputed the accuracy of some findings but said it has adjusted its procedures for documenting re-signed contracts.
The audit also found a lack of approval for some accounting entries, which the University System said it has since rectified.
"We respect the findings of the State Auditor’s Office and we have already taken corrective action on a good number of the findings, as detailed in the report. We will take further action as required," University System spokeswoman Billie Jo Lorius said in an email.
The State Board of Higher Education Audit Committee received and accepted the audit report at its meeting Monday, she added.
In a separate audit, Gallion said Minot State University did not test all high-risk international students for tuberculosis from July 2017 through June 2018, was unable to provide proof of an immunization tracking system and circumvented the University System procedure for students without proof of immunizations by allowing them to register for classes without immunization records.
"Without a tracking system in place, vulnerable students cannot be made aware of an outbreak,” Gallion said. “It’s essential that the university not only maintain these records but consistently test high-risk students."
Minot State in its response to the audit said new procedures will be implemented by Oct. 31 "to ensure compliance with immunization policies."