NDSCS President responds to a proposal for 'temporary system oversight" | Prairie Public Broadcasting

NDSCS President responds to a proposal for 'temporary system oversight"

Jun 26, 2019

NDSCS President John Richman.
Credit North Dakota University System

The state Board of Higher Education will decide whether the North Dakota State College of Science needs “temporary system oversight” of some of the campus management functions.

This comes in the wake of a performance audit – which criticized NDSCS for a conflict of interest, in that the Vice-President of Workforce Affairs, Fargo City Commissioner Tony Grindberg, is married to the chief financial officer at Flint Communications – the firm the college hired as a consultant for a proposed career education center it hopes to build in Fargo. The audit also said the college didn’t turn over some information the auditor requested, and said NDSCS did not meet some of its goals.

The Board of Higher Education’s Audit Committee recommends Chancellor Mark Hagerott and the system office take oversight of some of the campus functions on a temporary basis. But during a committee meeting, NDSCS President John Richman said that step isn't necessary, because his campus has an “action plan” to address the audit report.

"We take that information seriously," Richman told the Committee. "We develop action plans to learn and improve. And we follow up, and hold people accountable. The plan we presented to you and the Chancellor will do just that."

Richman said he "didn't see the value" of the system oversight. But Committee Chair Kathy Neset said there is a definite need for that temporary system oversight.

"The action plan by NDSCS is holding the 'status quo,'" Neset said. "That's what's been used in the past, and it is not sufficient to prevent these types of issues from happening."

"Help me understand specifically what those significant issues are in the audit report," Richman said.

"We are rehashing the same information that we have gone over in the past," Neset responded. "Number one -- conflict of interest. Number two -- not providing data to the state auditor."

Board chair Don Morton said the state auditor’s office made several requests for information concerning the agreement between the college and Flint. But he said they weren’t specific.

"It looks like it's almost a 'gotcha' moment," Morton said.

Neset disagreed.

"I read it as the state auditor made it quite clear he had requests for documents," Neset said. "Zero were provided."

The full Board will take up the matter Thursday.