The Secretary of State’s Audits Division found that the Higher Education Coordinating Commission state agency’s (HECC) current procurement practices are exposing the agency to legal, security, and public perception risks. Overall, HECC lacks an effective procurement system to ensure services and goods are procured in compliance with state laws.
HECC is responsible for funding and coordinating public higher education in Oregon. It was established in 2011 as a volunteer commission to focus on strategic planning for public postsecondary education in the state. HECC’s structure has expanded and now consists of an established state agency with 115 budgeted full time equivalent positions in eight offices.
The purpose of this audit was to review procurement practices at HECC and identify opportunities to improve current practices.
Within the context that state procurement rules are complex and intended to benefit the state as a whole, we found that:
- HECC leadership has not implemented a governance structure to ensure procurements are made in compliance with state laws and rules.
- Of the 748 HECC contracts and agreements open from November 2016 to March 2017, 65% were executed after their effective date and 53 or 7% were considered backlogged.
- A lack of clearly defined procurement roles and responsibilities and insufficient training has created confusion and inconsistent procurement processes and practices across the agency.
- HECC current practices are noncompliant with state procurement laws and rules, exposing the agency to legal, security, and public perception risks.
- To reach our findings we conducted interviews and reviewed agency documents, state procurement laws and rules, contract files and agreements, accounting records, and other accounting supporting documentation.
To establish and maintain a robust procurement process, we recommend HECC create a governance structure that clearly defines procurement roles and responsibilities and fully develops, implements, and trains staff on procurement roles, policies, processes, and procedures. We also recommend HECC management ensures consistent adherence to state procurement law and rules.
The Commission generally agrees with our findings and recommendations. Their response can be found at the end of the report.