Monday, July 13, 2015

Auditors critical of Baltimore County schools' contract process

A legislative audit of Baltimore County's public school system released Friday found that officials haven't always followed purchasing rules that would give the system the most competitively priced services and contracts.
In a review of about 10 contracts, the Department of Legislative Audits found instances in which the school system had decided to "piggyback" off other government contracts rather than use the more common process of asking for bids from multiple companies.
"These contracts were issued by other governmental entities that allowed other jurisdictions to use the contract terms and prices," said the audit, which covered fiscal years 2013 and 2014. "However, we found that BCPS did not use the contract terms and prices established by the other government entities, but negotiated their own unique contract terms and prices."
Among the contracts the auditors criticized was a $875,000, three-year contract with SUPES Academy to train principals. The contract, which has expired, became controversial because Superintendent Dallas Dance was found in violation of the ethics policy for working for the company without getting school board approval.
The audit said the county did not provide good reasons why the SUPES contract and others should not be competitively bid.
In the future, auditors want school officials to provide further analysis to school board members before they vote on contracts. George Sarris, the school system's executive director for fiscal services, said they agreed with the audit's findings and "have created an analytic procedure with a check list that we will use."...

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