Audit Calls on Mass. College of Liberal Arts to Improve Inventory Tracking and Procurement Oversight

BOSTON – In an audit released today, the Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) found the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has not adequately safeguarded some of its property and equipment against misuse. The audit also showed MCLA was not properly overseeing procurement cards which are used for incidental purchases. A previous audit of MCLA from 2016 found similar issues related to inventory tracking and purchase policies.

“Time and again, our office has found issues at higher education institutions across the Commonwealth regarding inventory tracking and oversight of the procurement process. The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has not made improvements since our last audit and must be more diligent in its oversight in these areas which are critical elements to protecting against property misuse and project oversight,” Bump said. “Although MCLA has a ways to go, I am encouraged by the college’s response to our audit and the initial steps they’ve taken.”

The audit, which examined the period of July 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019, found MCLA did not properly administer its inventory of furniture and equipment. Specifically, the college was not properly tagging assets, adding assets to its inventory list, or conducting annual physical inventories. Of the 20 invoices and items reviewed during the audit, 13 (valued at $27,604) were missing locations and 10 had did not have accurate or complete information. The audit recommended MCLA perform annual physical inventories and identify additional staff members to help with the process.

Additionally, the audit showed MCLA did not ensure that procurement card accounts were reconciled or that expenses were always supported by documentation or properly approved. The audit also notes that cardholders did not submit procurement card logs to their supervisors, which is required under the college’s own policy. Based on its response, MCLA is taking steps to address these issues.

Past audits of Northern Essex Community College and Massachusetts Bay Community College found similar issues related to inventory tracking and procurement card oversight.

MCLA is a member of the Massachusetts public higher education system, which consists of fifteen community colleges, nine state universities, and five University of Massachusetts campuses. MCLA is located on Church Street in North Adams. As of fall 2019, MCLA had 1,345 undergraduate and 162 graduate students. The college received appropriations of $16,888,607 and $17,695,143 from the Commonwealth for fiscal years 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The full audit report is available here.

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About the Office of the State Auditor
The Office of the State Auditor conducts performance audits of state government programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency. The OSA has identified approximately $1.3 billion in unallowable, questionable, or potentially fraudulent spending and saving opportunities for the Commonwealth since 2011. Last year, auditees reported implementation of 92 percent of the OSA’s audit recommendations.

For more information, visit http://www.mass.gov/auditor or follow Auditor Bump on Twitter @MassAuditor, on Facebook, or subscribe to the Auditor’s Report e-newsletter.

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