An illustration on the state auditors website urging people to report government waste, fraud and abuse.
An illustration on the state auditors website urging people to report government waste, fraud and abuse.

State auditors have found that the Board of Regents’ central office did not follow several state laws created to protect the public college system from theft of property, improperly paying employees who have a second job at another state agency and hiring contractors with political ties.

“In absence of proper monitoring, duplicate payments and conflicts of interest may go undetected,” state auditors John Geragosian and Robert Ward found in a 23-page evaluation of the system office of fiscal 2012 and 2013.

College leaders agreed with every finding and promised the auditors to improve.

“The BOR agrees and corrective action will be taken,” the college system responded to a finding that contractors involved in five of 25 audited purchases costing more than $50,000 did not obtain a Gift and Campaign Contribution Certification until after the purchases had been made.

The audit covered a period of tremendous leadership change for the 90,000-student college system. In 2011 state lawmakers merged the 12 community colleges, the online Charter Oak College and the four-campus Connecticut State University into one system overseen by the Board of Regents and called the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.

The auditors blamed several of the lapses cited in the report on changes that took place during that merger, including a finding that the regents had not followed a state law requiring that purchasing be consolidated into the system’s central office.

“Due to the recent consolidation of the administration of the state’s public higher education institutions under the new Board of Regents for Higher Education, these requirements have not been implemented,” the auditors report said,

The central office – which had a budget of $27 million during 2013 – was headed by three different presidents during the audited period. The system’s current leader, Mark Ojakian, took office in September.

Here’s a rundown of the problems cited in the report:

  • Central office employees are required to provide a note from a physician if they miss more than five consecutive work days. Of the five sick leave cases audited, one employee did not have a doctor’s note on file.
  • Staff are required to document when they will be employed by both the regents and another state agency to ensure the work is performed outside their primary work hours, that they are not paid twice for the same hours and that there are no conflicts of interests. Of the two employees audited who work elsewhere in state government, neither had a dual employment form on file.
  • An inventory of equipment owned by the college system is required. Of 30 items selected for the audit, five items were found in locations other than where they were reported to be on the inventory records.
  • An inventory of software owned by the college system is required. The system did not maintain a central inventory to track its software.
  • A technology disaster recovery plan is required to be tested every two years. The plan has not been reviewed or tested since August 2010.
  • Some staff that no longer work for the regents continued to have access to the system’s accounting and human recourses records long after their departure.

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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