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Unclear Whether Binghamton University Probe Cost Was “Reasonable”

August 2, 2012
Bob Joseph/WNBF

The state comptroller’s office isn’t finished with the SUNY Research Foundation.

Thomas DiNapoli says his staff is planning to take a closer look at the foundation operations.

The Research Foundation has been accused of allowing improper spending and engaging in improper hiring practices. It also spent more than $900,000 on an investigation into some aspects of Binghamton University’s athletics program.

Speaking Wednesday on WNBF Radio’s Binghamton Now program, DiNapoli said he intends to find out what the real impact of the foundation’s activities has been on individual SUNY campuses.

DiNapoli acknowledged the foundation has taken “some steps” to address the issues his office had previously raised. But, he said, “more needs to be done.”

The comptroller’s office this week noted the SUNY Research Foundation failed to justify in advance the spending of $913,500 on an investigation into the Binghamton University men’s basketball program.

The foundation chose retired state chief judge Judith Kaye and a powerful law firm to do the job without seeking other alternatives before authorizing a contract.

DiNapoli said steps should have been taken to ensure that was a fair and appropriate price for the work.

The comptroller said there are circumstances where a single-source contract would be acceptable. But in those cases, justification must be provided.

DiNapoli said: “You have to have documentation of that justification. That didn’t happen here.”

Without justification, he said there’s no assurance whether the $913,500 was a “reasonable price for the product that was produced.”

DiNapoli said after the foundation tried to provide justification for the procurement process after the fact. But he said that should have been done before the money was spent.

The comptroller said other firms certainly would have been interested in competing for a job worth nearly a million dollars.

DiNapoli said one of the purposes of his office conducting an audit is to assure that this sort of thing won’t happen again.

He said the audit reviewed a range of SUNY Research Foundation contracts and found that 10 of the 13 checked violated the foundation’s own policies.

DiNapoli said “they need to follow their own policies” and, in some cases, tighten up the existing policies.

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