UM failed to get approval for $4.7M in food expenses, audit finds

The University of Maryland, College Park did not obtain required approval to pay $4.7 million to its food- services provider and did not adequately monitor faculty research leave, according to a state audit released Thursday.

The audit says the state's flagship university allowed U.S. Foodservice to continue operating without a written contract after the previous agreement expired on June 30, 2010.

The audit says the university should have sought permission from the Board of Regents, which is required to approve all procurement contracts that cost more than $5 million. Though the $4.7 million spent between July 2010 and March 2011 did not exceed that figure, the university should have anticipated that food costs for a full year would be more than $5 million, the audit says.

The university has since approved a temporary contract with the vendor while it reviews competitive bids for a new food-services contract. In their response to the audit, university officials said they failed to report their actions to the Board of Regents because of conflicting language in the university system's policies. They said they will seek regents' approval before executing the next food contract.

The audit also found conflicting or incomplete information in records kept to monitor faculty workload. In an examination of 16 faculty members in 2010, the audit found that two had not adequately documented research projects that kept them from meeting required teaching loads.

In their response, university officials blamed a clerical error and said the faculty members had obtained proper permission for reducing their teaching.

Auditors also examined sabbatical records submitted by 10 faculty members and found that seven of the professors did not meet required deadlines for submitting reports on their research leave.

University officials responded that an internal review found 10 percent of faculty failing to meet the deadlines between 2005 and 2010, and said they would implement a new electronic reporting system to improve compliance.

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