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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Comptroller flags purchasing procedures at UPR-Río Piedras

The University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus

By The Star Staff

The Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico (OCPR) issued a qualified opinion this week on the operations of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Río Piedras Campus during the period from July 2016 to April 2021.

A qualified opinion is issued when individual or aggregate non-compliances are significant, but not pervasive or prevalent.

The report notes that of the 18,371 purchase orders totaling $53.7 million, the UPR split 5,184 orders for $9.7 million made to 56 suppliers. By doing this, UPR avoided having to hold a bid or auction, which is required when purchase requisitions exceed $50,000. The actions occurred from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2020, for the purchase, among other things, of office and sanitary supplies; of supplies for laboratories and building maintenance, and for office, air conditioning, laboratory, computer and audiovisual equipment as well as for communication equipment and building maintenance services; and for rental of photocopying machines.

The report also revealed that 11 purchase orders were issued for $101,027 with an advance payment term, which did not have the approval of the Director of Finance. Those orders were issued from April 3, 2017 to Feb. 5, 2020 for the purchase of office, educational, security, construction and sanitary materials and equipment, and for services related to food preparation, maintenance of equipment and buildings, and for equipment leasing.

Among the deficiencies related to purchase disbursements, from Sept. 20, 2016 to Jan. 27, 2021, the report reveals that UPR-Río Piedras made 58 disbursements for $350,356 for 57 invoices. Of these, seven invoices and their supporting documents were not marked with the word paid or canceled once the payment was made. Those invoices were issued from Sept. 1, 2016 to June 2, 2020, and were paid from Sept. 20, 2016 to July 16, 2020.

The auditors observed, among other things, that seven of eight disbursement vouchers, for employee withholdings for $1,383,711, were paid between one and 187 days before the documents were pre-intervened. Other findings of the report were: absence of provisions in the Purchasing Regulations, and internal procedures related to disbursement operations not updated; and contracts sent to the OCPR with delays, and others without sending a true and exact copy.

The OCPR report covers the period from July 1, 2016 to April 30, 2021.

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