Audit of Maryland Public Broadcasting finds several issues

The state agency that holds Maryland Public Television's broadcast licenses didn't solicit bids for a $2.55 million contract it awarded and mistakenly paid $72,000 more than had been authorized to another contractor, a state audit found.

The audit of the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission, made public Tuesday, said a three-year contract for direct marketing and fundraising was awarded on a "sole-source" basis even though at least one other vendor offers similar services, including a public media co-op. And in 2007, six companies bid on the contract, the auditors said.

Among several smaller issues, the commission also exceeded by $72,000 the amount it was supposed to pay a call-center contractor, a result of not maintaining proper cost controls, the auditors found.

The commission said in its response to the audit that "it acted in good faith" on the marketing contract, believing it was "legitimately a sole source" situation, but would comply with the auditors' recommendations.

Maryland Public Broadcasting said the overpayments on the other contract occurred when the commission was without a contract manager or procurement officer, adding that the new procurement officer "has taken steps" to prevent a reoccurrence.

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