WVU-P Contract Practices Come Under Scrutiny

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Legislative auditors say West Virginia University at Parkersburg has violated with the rules governing contracts with vendors.

Tuesday's report to lawmakers says the school violated the West Virginia constitution with a 2009 contract for food services that it failed to submit to the state's attorney general. This contract wrongly commits the school to a $177,000 loan to vendor AVI Foodsystems. It will end up costing WVU-P nearly $236,000.

In a statement, WVU-P President Marie Foster Gnage said:

"When it came time to renew our contract with AVI Foodsystems, the bid included food services along with renovations to the kitchen and cafeteria areas. The agreement did not involve exchange of dollars but did include building renovations as profit to the college.
Other institutions have made similar mistakes with this type of contract. WVU-Parkersburg was unaware that it needed reviewed by the state attorney’s office. In the end, the college received a much-needed update to the cafeteria which students are now enjoying on a daily basis. "

The audit also found that WVU-P has accepted nearly $60,000 worth of donations from vendors that routinely do business with the school. One such gift apparently resulted from a vendor cutting a bid in half in order to win a flooring contract.

"There are local people and businesses that are community-minded and want to give to the college and other organizations," President Gnage said in her statement. "WVU-Parkersburg does not discriminate when choosing vendors based on donations made. However, much of the quality programs and services provided to our students would not be possible without generous donations from those in the community.

A WVU-P official hired in 2010 says the school is adopting the audit's various recommendations.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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