State Auditor Mike Foley’s review of purchases by University of Nebraska employees on their purchase cards indicate some abuses of the system. Foley’s report reviewed 1,600 individual purchases over 18 months. He says many of the purchases are routine and of little note, but others have the appearance of being inappropriate.
Those include a $750 purchase of a digital picture frame from Amazon.com; a $628 fountain pen; a $219 golf club and a still unused $250 Nintendo Wii gaming system. Foley’s report also shows $11 million dollars in transactions with major airlines during the 18 month review period. Some of the more noteworthy, according to Foley, are $283,000 in first-class tickets – 20 of which cost more than $5,000 and one (a round trip fare to China) with a $15,000 price tag.
Foley also noted concern with patterns of abuse from employees who would pool their purchases together to avoid limits put on their individual cards. In addition, some would use their cards for cash advances which is against University policy.
University officials acknowledged that while some examples of noncompliance were found, they said in a press release that no evidence was identified of material weakness in the University’s internal controls or intentional wrongdoing by cardholders or reconcilers.
The University has put Vice President for Business and Finance David E. Lechner in charge of implimenting the following procedures in going along with the Auditor’s recommendations.
Reinforce and re-examine policies and guidelines; increase management oversight of purchasing card use and reconciliation; review and reinforce proper procedures with employees through training and communication, and improve documentation.
Lechner will convene a University-wide task force of procurement officers to address the recommendations, with a goal of having appropriate policies in place by June 30, 2010.