State Credit Cards at University Used to Dodge Purchasing Rules, Auditors Find

By Len Lazarick,

ANNAPOLIS—One department at the University of Maryland Baltimore was found to have misused state-issued credit cards to dodge purchasing rules, and four people were using two credit cards issued to only two people, according to state auditors.

An audit report released Monday said purchases made on these two corporate purchasing cards, which had monthly limits of $400,000 or more, “were artificially split in order to bypass formal procurement policies,” which generally require competitive bids for purchases over $5,000.

In some cases, vendors of research and medical equipment used at the professional schools were asked to generate several invoices for a single purchase to avoid competitive bids. The team from the Office of Legislative Audits found that 15 orders from two medical supply firms totaling about $122,000 were split into two or more transaction to avoid the $5,000 limit. The purchases occurred from March 2009 to September 2011.

In a response to the audit from University Chancellor William Kirwan, university officials said that the staff had been instructed to abide by the $5,000 rule.

“These restrictions have been reinforced with cardholders and reviewers and, where applicable, sanctions will be imposed,” the response said, with no specific punishment mentioned.

In keeping with standard practice, the auditors do not name specific people or units that may have been at fault.

The legislative auditors, who review every state agency every three years, also found that some employees, perhaps many, did not submit time records for their work days. There was also not adequate supervision of time records, and in some cases, the same employee recording time records were also allowed to change the records after they had been approved.

The audit noted that the university paid $625 million in salaries during the period audited.

The university detailed the steps it had taken to correct the payroll problems, and provide proper supervision.

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