www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/sun-investigates/bs-md-umbc-audit-20120515,0,6161558.story

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UMBC employees out of jobs after state audit uncovers improper expenditures

Issue, including purchase of $4,400 in gift cards, referred to attorney general

By Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

10:03 PM EDT, May 15, 2012

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Two University of Maryland, Baltimore County employees resigned or were fired after a state audit and an internal investigation uncovered about $9,000 in questionable expenditures on their corporate credit cards.

Their activities have been referred to the criminal division of the attorney general's office for further review, though no charges have been filed.

One of the employees purchased $4,400 in gift cards — a violation of university policy — according to the audit, released Tuesday morning. The audit found that the employees' purchases were not always supported by bank statements or vendor invoices and that supervisors did not review their credit card purchases thoroughly.

UMBC launched its own investigation based on the audit findings and uncovered additional questionable transactions. The total amount of expenditures was about $9,000, said university spokeswoman Elyse Ashburn. She said it appeared the purchase of gift cards was for personal use.

The university referred the case to the attorney general.

In its response to the audit, the university said it will subject supervisors to new training regarding purchase reviews and created a more in-depth review process.

"We take the issue very seriously," Ashburn said. "As stated in the audit, we responded with our own investigation as soon as we found out."

She said she could not reveal the identities or responsibilities of the employees in question because the investigation is a personnel matter.

The audit, which covered a period between October 2008 and June 2011, also found inadequate controls to ensure that students were charged correctly on tuition bills. A random review of student accounts found that four had not been charged any tuition or fees for the 2011 spring or fall semesters.

In its response to the audit, the university said it has collected tuition from the students who weren't charged and is working on correcting flaws in the billing system.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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