UConn Health Center makes its own rules: state auditors find one $50K contract escalated to $4.1 M

The UConn Health Center in Farmington was a punching bag a few years ago, when many lawmakers wanted to close it for mismanagement. Well, it gained new life in recent years and will host the planned expansion of the Maine-based Jackson Labs genetic research operation. But that doesn’t mean the mismanagement is behind the facility. Here is today’s report from the Auditors of Public Accounts for 2009 and 2010. The boldface in the selected recommended is from the Blogster.

4. The Health Center should not authorize contractors to begin work prior to the execution of a contract.
We noted numerous instances in which the Health Center entered into personal service agreements which were not fully executed until after the start date.
5. The Health Center should require that persons wishing to attend executive MBA courses during their normal working hours charge either their vacation time or unpaid leave.
We noted an instance in which the Health Center granted 19 paid leave days to an employee for the purpose of attending executive MBA classes.
6. The Health Center should establish a tuition reimbursement policy similar to the one established by the University of Connecticut-Storrs.
We noted instances where reimbursements to employees for tuition were overly generous.

7. The Health Center should establish the scope and price of consulting contracts prior to establishing a contractual relationship. In those instances in which the scope or price of a project significantly changes, consideration should be given to soliciting new proposals in an open and competitive process.
The Health Center entered into a contract with a consultant for an amount originally established at $50,000. By the time the consultant had finished rendering the services originally contemplated by the Health Center, the price for such services had increased to $4,100,000.

11.When purchasing items of significant cost, the Health Center should attempt to seek competition among qualified vendors
We noted an instance in which a significant purchase by the Health Center was not supported by evidence of competition among vendor or evidence of proper pricing.