State University of New York - University at Buffalo

 

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

State University of New York – University at Buffalo
Procurement Practices


Issued: October 3, 2019
Link to full audit report 2018-S-37

Objective
To determine whether the State University of New York – University at Buffalo’s procurement and contracting practices provide sufficient assurance that funds are spent appropriately, are in the best interest of the State, and adequately safeguard against waste and abuse. Our audit covered procurement and contracting transactions between April 1, 2016 and September 5, 2018, and subsequent information provided by the University at Buffalo through April 5, 2019.

About the Program
The University at Buffalo (Buffalo) is one of the largest institutions within the State University of New York public higher education system. Specializing in research and medicine, Buffalo serves more than 31,000 students and employs more than 2,500 faculty on its three campuses. In support of its mission, Buffalo spent nearly $330 million in State funds on procurements between April 2016 and September 2018. Various requirements, established in law and elsewhere, are in place to ensure that spending is appropriate and in the best interest of the State.

Key Findings
Our review of $8 million in Buffalo spending between April 2016 and September 2018 uncovered various issues within its procurement processes, leading us to question whether $895,839 was spent appropriately and in the best interest of the State. The majority of these expenses were paid to two vendors: Buffalo Foundation Activities, Inc. for research-related administrative services; and Corr Distributors, Inc. for custodial equipment maintenance. Buffalo’s poor monitoring of spending and contracting practices resulted in potential lost savings and cost avoidance, overcharges by vendors, and purchases that lack support for business need or reasonableness of price, among other questionable transactions. Buffalo agrees with most of our concerns and has indicated it will make improvements.

Key Recommendations

  • Ensure procurement procedures are being followed and document purchases appropriately so purchases are business related and goods or services are obtained at a reasonable price.
  • Improve the awarding and monitoring of the agreements for research-related administrative services and custodial equipment maintenance.
  • Develop a process for low-bid selection that includes evaluating parts and materials price lists for custodial equipment maintenance and repair services to ensure Buffalo is receiving the true contracted cost.

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Brian Reilly
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236