After a letter was sent earlier this month from the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee citing the University’s failure to correct findings from three consecutive operational audit reports, conducted every other year, the University will be tightening its control on the use of Procurement Cards, or PCards.
PCards, are issued to USF employees through application for a “more efficient and cost-effective process” of purchasing small goods and services related to USF System business, according to the USF PCard website.
But the letter from the audit committee, posted as part of a 10 News investigative report, sent on March 13 to the university president, Board of Trustees (BOT) chairman, chief financial officer (CFO) and CFO for the Board of Governors, called for an written explanation from the University’s Board of Trustees as to the “corrective actions” being taken to better ensure compliance on PCard use.
In her last address to the Faculty Senate, USF President Judy Genshaft said “important changes” would be coming in PCard distribution.
“If you have had repeated warning over the years, they write to me and the chair of the Board,” she said. “And if we don’t correct it, we’ll have to go in front of the legislative committee.”
The university currently has 1,567 PCards issued to employees — a number Genshaft called “too many.”
During the 2010-11 fiscal year, PCard expenditures totaled about $41 million, according to the operational audit report completed in 2012, but of the 50 PCard transactions reviewed by the auditors, four were for unallowable charges, totaling $18,706 — $18,216 for furniture rental, roof repairs and other contractual services that require prior university approval and $490 on coffee and “related supplies.”
The auditors recommended USF to “enhance its training and monitoring procedures over its P-card program to ensure compliance with the University’s guidelines,” similar to recommendations made in 2010 and 2008.
In 2010, the report stated nine of the audited transactions were for unallowable charges — $434 on pest control services, $3,101 on capital equipment more than $1000, $299 on a coffee vending service, $514 on holiday cards, $49 for a retirement gift, $375 on “advertising unrelated to employment” and $19 on flowers.
In 2008, a report stated eight of the audited transactions totaling $3,180 were unallowable, and that of 15 terminated employees, 11 did not have their PCards terminated for 17 to 220 days after being terminated.
10 News reported on an employee of the USF Health library who was found to have misused $38,906 in university funds — including $3,824 in PCard misuse for car rentals and hotel stays. The article stated the employee was allowed to retire with benefits after USF completed an investigation that deemed the charges founded.
Genshaft mentioned an employee who bought a refrigerator with his or her PCard.
“You can’t do that,” she said.
Chief Operating Official John Long encouraged faculty members to check with the Office of Purchasing if they were unsure about PCard guidelines.
“You can’t use your PCard to buy your coffee,” he said.
In his initial response to the letter from the audit committee, posted online by 10 News, BOT chairman John Ramil said he met with the president, provost, chief financial officer, university controller and director of purchasing, 35 minutes after he read the letter.
The letter asked the Board to respond by June 1, but Ramil said before sending a complete response by that date, USF would issue communications out to PCard holders about the “non-negotiable terms” of PCard guidelines, require annual certification of PCard supervisors, create a PCard review board, require continual audits of PCard expenses from the University Audit and Compliance office and form a BOT subcommittee to examine the issue.
According to 10 News, the committee met Thursday morning.12