Tuesday, June 02, 2015

 

Another part of UH suffers management woes allowing state agencies to circumvent contract requirements and more



…We found that RCUH allows state agencies to circumvent contract requirements, secure services without proof of governor approvals, and forgo required evaluations of $4.3 million in projects.—snip from Summary of legislative auditor’s report Audit of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i


by Larry Geller

The University of Hawaii has a business school. You’d think that it would be an important resource to other parts of UH when needed. You’d think.

Here is the nub of a report posted today by the Legislative Auditor. It’s yet another management problem at UH. You’d think they would find a way to learn what they need to do… but then “you’d think” is just a figure of speech for I don’t really think that at all.

The Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i (RCUH) was formed to play a proactive role in promoting the welfare of Hawai‘i’s people by initiating, stimulating, conducting, and coordinating research and training, as well as commercializing inventions and discoveries. We found, however, that RCUH acts primarily as a provider of services to UH, which constituted $9 out of every $10 in RCUH business in FY2014.

RCUH’s broad purpose allows projects remotely associated with research or training to qualify for exemptions from state procurement and civil service laws. As such, strong management controls should be in place to ensure that projects qualify for RCUH’s exemptions. During FY2014, the corporation had about 3,000 employees earning $113.5 million in salary. We found that RCUH allows state agencies to circumvent contract requirements, secure services without proof of governor approvals, and forgo required evaluations of $4.3 million in projects. We also found that the corporation lacks clear policies and procedures for the review and acceptance of direct projects, and the department in charge of administering those projects lacks staff to ensure adequate project vetting and monitoring. We further found that written policies and procedures could improve RCUH’s oversight of intramural and revolving account projects. A lack of accountability for the flexibility afforded to RCUH raises the risk that RCUH’s employment and procurement exemptions are inappropriately used, which in turn may expose the corporation to criticism and undermine the public’s trust.

[summary, Audit of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i, June 2015]

So RCUH seems to be enabling a huge ($4.3M) loophole in state policy and procedures.

As far as undermining the public’s trust, this report should expose the corporation to criticism, and it has just accomplished the undermining of the public trust all by itself.

My concern over the years has been that UH seems to suffer from avoidable failures of management. It’s one thing after another. Not that any public institution is not subject to problems and the occasional failure, it’s just that UH should be able to do better.

And no, I won’t even mention one of my pet subjects, the “garbage can model” of management.



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