Thursday, February 15, 2018

BREAKING/READ: Pima C.C. Audit Shows Purchasing Irregularities, Failure To Properly Verify Citizenship Of Aid Recipients

The Arizona Auditor General's Office this afternoon released findings showing that the Pima County Community College District failed to adequately verify citizenship of federal aid recipients. The audit also found that purchasing procedure irregularities may have allowed the college to circumvent competitive purchasing.

In its official response - below, as part of the audit report - the PCCC District is not disputing any of the audit findings and lists the corrective actions that it is taking with each of them.

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, the District distributed approximately $1M in aid through the federal Upward Bound and Educational Opportunity Centers programs. The Upward Bound program was the larger of the two, and the district is required to actively verify citizenship. Instead, the recipients were permitted to self-certify that they were eligible. A random check of four recipients showed that they were, in fact, citizens. However, the district acknowledged that they were not able to verify citizenship for most of the random checks in the EOC program. The district indicates that it has taken corrective action starting this semester.

As for purchasing, the Auditor General's office found a number of troubling irregularities. Purchase orders were not approved prior to buying and receiving goods, as required; instead, the pre-approvals were "backdated". At least one "purchase was split into two separate transactions to avoid competitive purchasing", blanket purchase orders were unmonitored and did not require authorizations, and some purchases exceeding $1,000 were wrongly approved for payment.

The district indicates that it plans to have the Board of Governors pass new purchasing guidelines by the end of June.

There are some indications that this state audit may not be the only inspections of the federal monies. Arizona's Politics has reached out to the Auditor General and the PCCC District for more information, and will update as warranted.

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Tempe attorney Paul Weich contributed this report.

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