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BCCC audit: Purchases made without contract bidding

This is the Main building on the Baltimore City Community College campus.
This is the Main building on the Baltimore City Community College campus. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore City Community College made $293,000 in purchases over two years without securing contract bids, according to a state audit that comes as the school is already in danger of losing its accreditation.

The state Office of Legislative Audits report Tuesday also cited BCCC for such infractions as failing to ensure that instructors teaching courses beyond their required course loads were paid properly and failing to promptly cancel purchasing cards of terminated employees. Regarding the latter finding, the audit said that no charges were made to cards still active after the card carriers were terminated.

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The Middle States Commission on Higher Education warned BCCC in June that it could lose its accreditation over concerns about institutional effectiveness, integrity and allocation of resources. It said BCCC must submit a progress report addressing the concerns by March and that a decision regarding its accreditation would be based on the report and a visit to the school.

That warning came two years after BCCC was taken off probation that stemmed from concerns about compliance.

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"Accreditation is critical to BCCC," the audit said, "because according to federal regulations, non-accredited colleges are not eligible for federal funding [such as Pell grants]. In fiscal year 2013, BCCC received federally funded student financial aid totaling approximately $13 million."

According to the audit, BCCC made purchases from three vendors during fiscal years 2012 and 2013 for maintenance services totaling $293,000 but none bid for the services or signed contracts for them.

"Consequently," the audit said, "there is no assurance that BCCC obtained these services at the lowest cost."

The audit said state law requires bidding for contracts exceeding $25,000 and also requires written contacts for transactions exceeding $5,000. It said BCCC produced bidding documentation only for $61,000 of the purchases.

BCCC concurred with the findings and said of the contract bids matter, "The College's current processes coupled with recent personnel changes will ensure future compliance."

BCCC spokesman Patrick Onley said that the school's response alluded to the hiring of an interim vice president for business and finance, Calvin Harris, in June as well as that of a new chief budget officer, Brian O'Connell, in July.

Onley said the hirings were not related to the concerns spelled out in the audit. He said he was not aware of anyone who had been terminated due to the matter.

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