US college should overhaul procurement processes after bribery jailing

13 July 2018

A US college where a trustee was jailed for accepting bribes should improve its procurement processes, according to a report.

The report into Houston Community College (HCC), ordered by college administrators, called for more planning, transparency and oversight and a reduction in the opportunities for trustees to exert improper influence.

The report said an unnamed HCC administrator expressed frustration that a vendor may have influenced the criteria of a procurement, in order to limit competition, while a trustee recommended a new, specific vendor be considered in future procurements, which is prohibited.

However the report, obtained by The Texas Monitor, stressed that the incidents it found were not significant. “HCC can improve the procurement process with increased planning, improved transparency and reporting, administrative oversight and board approval of vendor contracts concurrent with vendor selection,” said the report.

“Opportunities for conflicts of interest and improver influence involving trustees should be reduced through additional and ongoing reporting requirements, regular review of disclosures, [and] increasing restrictions on nepotism employing”.

The report said departments should receive additional procurement training, while maintenance and repair procurements need improved policies and procedures to ensure “fair and competitive assignments that result in the best value methods and vendor selection”.

Last year Chris Oliver, a former HCC trustee, admitted accepting nearly $250,000 in bribes and promising to steer contracts to select HCC suppliers. In January this year he was sentenced to 70 months in prison.

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