Pima reacts to critical audit report

By COLE POTWARDOWSKI

Pima Community College is developing a corrective action plan for the 2013-2015 school years in response to “significant deficiencies” found in an Arizona auditor general report.

The audit investigated the college’s internal controls through June 2012, and cited contradictory financial policies and lax employee time cards.

Spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the college and other auditors “did not report any findings in finances that we consider to be material weaknesses.”

The state audit said Pima did not always follow a purchasing policy that requires competitive bidding.

The report checked 14 contracts and found that four violated Pima policy. Three contracts directly skirted the recommended purchasing procedure, which says to avoid sole-source procurement.

“The district was unable to demonstrate that the original contracts were competitively procured,” the audit said.

The fourth contract was an extension of another school’s contract via cooperative agreement. The audit called cooperative agreements an unauthorized form of legal services and a breach of Pima’s purchasing policies.

“In each of the cases cited, the college had been working with the vendors for some time prior to 2012,” Karamargin said in an email. “The findings are related to how the vendors were selected when the initial work commenced.”

The audit also cited lax documentation of employee time sheets. Supervisors signed 15 of 21 time sheets two weeks in advance.

“Because of this, the financial statements could be misstated, and payroll costs charged to federal programs may not be proper,” the report said.

“The college had a paper-based timekeeping system that, in order to process and ensure timely payment to our employees, included predictive timing,” Karamargin said.

The college has since adopted electronic time sheets.

Interim Chancellor Suzanne Miles addressed the deficiencies in a Feb. 27 newsletter.

“The college has an action plan in place to address the concerns issued in the audit,” she wrote. “The plan contains a solution, a deadline and a responsible person to ensure that the deficiency is corrected.”

The three-part plan calls for community outreach, workforce collaboration and fostering an innovative culture at Pima.

The college’s Planning Committee will brainstorm a draft to present to the PCC Governing Board later in the year.

The committee said it welcomes email suggestions for improving Pima’s priorities, via college-plan@pima.edu.

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