Audit recommends HCCC change procurement policy

Herkimer County Community College officials said they will meet the recommendations made by the state Comptroller’s Office following an audit on its competitive methods when procuring goods and services.

Listed under the key findings of the audit, the comptroller’s office said the college’s purchasing policy is “outdated and inconsistent” and isn’t communicated to all staff involved with the purchase.

The audit also found that the college’s “purchasing policy and procedures do not address the solicitation of competition for professional services of competition for professional services and insurance,” and that “the college purchased goods and services totaling $474,514 and professional services totaling $702,016 without seeking competition.”

The audit report states that when competitive bidding requirements aren’t adhered to, “the college cannot be certain goods and services were obtained at the lowest reasonable price.”

Recommendations for the college include reviewing and updating its purchasing policy and procedures “to ensure they are consistent, and provide detailed guidance for procuring professional services and insurance.” The comptroller’s office also said that the purchasing policies and procedures should be “distributed to all staff involved in the purchasing process.”

Another recommendation was for the college to “use competitive methods when procuring goods and services in accordance with General Municipal Law and the college’s purchasing policy and procedures.” An explanation on how a college should procure goods and services according to the state General Municipal Law was included with the audit.

The audit also contained a Nov. 21 letter from college President Cathleen McColgin in response to the report’s findings, which included some “clarifications.” The letter stated that “While the college does not dispute any of the findings of your office, it would be remiss in not providing clarification on a couple of details contained in the Report of Examination.”

McColgin said when the college employed janitorial services for $47,147, it was due to an “immediate need” for services during a “severe staff shortage” and there wasn’t time for a competitive bid process. She said that two originally showed interest but that one eventually declined “due to the temporary nature of the project.”