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Boston — State Auditor Suzanne Bump today released an audit of Bridgewater State University (BSU) and identified deficiencies in the institution’s financial management. Responding to the report’s concerns and recommendations, the public university stated it is making improvements.
The audit found that BSU had awarded a contract for food services at the school to a long-standing vendor without engaging in a competitive bidding process. Without doing so, BSU cannot be certain it is getting the best value at the best price for these services from Sodexo. The audit notes that BSU’s own purchasing policies state that the university must use a competitive bid process unless a review revealed that particular vendor is the only one that can perform the service and other vendors are not unreasonably restricted or that a solicitation did not elicit a responsible bid, proposal, or quote. In addition to the bid process, the report also found that the university had not been performing various forms of performance monitoring allowed by the contract with Sodexo.
The audit also found BSU has inappropriately established trust funds and has not established complete rules for their use. State law and the university’s policy identify the BSU board of trustees as the sole body authorized to establish trust funds for the school. However, 43 of the school’s 59 trust funds were established instead by BSU administrative staff. In addition, only 16 of the school’s 59 trust funds contained defined requirements for the funds’ administration.
Other findings include: misclassified and misreported amounts of revenues owed to the university; certain expenses related to professional services misclassified in accounting records; an incomplete internal control plan; and an inaccurate inventory of equipment; and 16 instances of missing or stolen property that BSU did not report to the Office of the State Auditor as required by law.
Since the audit began, University officials stated they are establishing formal procedures to monitor its food service contract, working on new inventory control policies and procedures, and are developing an internal process to ensure compliance with state laws for reporting lost and stolen property.
Bridgewater State University, formerly Bridgewater State College, is a member of the Massachusetts Public Higher Education System. Located largely in Bridgewater, with an offsite campus located in Attleboro, BSU offers over 90 areas of undergraduate study, with more than 60 degree programs. In 2012, BSU conferred 2,270 degrees. The student population is approximately 11,417.
The Office of the State Auditor conducts technical and performance audits of state government’s programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency.
The Bridgewater State University audit is available here.