ANNAPOLIS – Morgan State University has increased oversight of
capital projects in response to a February audit report that found contracting improprieties, President Earl Richardson told members of the Maryland Joint Audit Committee on Tuesday.
Some of the university’s expenditures are under investigation by the Criminal Division of the Office of the Attorney General after the
audit cited “significant deficiencies” in the school’s management of
capital improvement projects.
The audit, performed by the audit division of the Department of Legislative Services and spanning November 2003 to January 2007, found that $3.1 million allocated to infrastructure costs of relocating a telecommunications hub were improperly divulged to the Board of Public Works.
The report said that Morgan State also used those funds to pay for
other contracts awarded to the contractor, which was not named in the audit nor in the discussion Tuesday, in charge of the $4.3 million telecommunications hub project.
“We discerned earlier that it was poor judgment on the part of one of our staff persons, intentional or not,” Richardson said to the
As a result of the audit, the university’s director of design and
construction resigned. Morgan State hired Kim McCalla to head that
department under the new title of assistant vice president for design
and construction management.
The audit also noted questionable payments made by Morgan State to
the contractor including almost $826,000 of overpayments due to an
inadequate review of invoices. Although the contractor said there were
erroneous, duplicate billings, the university had not been reimbursed
as of December 2007, the audit report said.
“I don’t understand why, a year later, the overpayment has not been recovered, said Delegate Charles E. Barkley, D-Montgomery, an audit committee member.
The university is also reviewing invoices from the
telecommunications hub project, but will not take any actions that
might interfere with the Attorney General’s investigation, said a status update released by the school. Morgan State has also taken steps to improve the review process of all future invoices.
In response to the audit’s recommendations, the university reported
the undefined funds to the Board of Public Works, but was asked to
hold that issue until the conclusion of the criminal investigation.
Richardson said he would not comment on the matter until that time.
Morgan State created a Capital Construction Review Committee to increase oversight of capital improvement projects. Among other duties, that committee examines major features of construction projects and ensures that state and university guidelines are met.
The telecommunications hub relocation project has been completed and the university still employs the contractor on other projects.
“It has been a very trying time over the past eight to 10 months,”
Richardson said Tuesday. “I think we can all be comforted that we have
addressed all of the issues.”
The Joint Audit committee is composed of 20 members divided equally between the maryland Senate and House of Delegates. Verna L. Jones, D-Baltimore, serves as the Senate chairwoman, while Steve J. DeBoy Sr., D-Baltimore County, serves as the House chairman.