Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

ND state auditor's office examining NDSCS after independent probe

The campus of the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton. Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK — State Auditor Josh Gallion's office is conducting an audit of the North Dakota State College of Science just months after the completion of an independent examination of the Wahpeton institution.

In a Friday, Sept. 28, letter to Greg Stemen, who chaired the State Board of Higher Education's audit committee before resigning last week, Audit Manager Craig Hashbarger said the inquiry would involve NDSCS and would include "one or more" of the following topics: the workforce training program TrainND, space utilization and enrollment and capital projects. Those topics were covered by the independent report released in July.

The new examination from Gallion's office is a performance audit, which examines agency procedures, compliance, legislative intent and results.

In a Tuesday email to NDSCS President John Richman, Hashbarger said the auditor's office "had some concerns brought to our attention pertaining to NDSCS." He said they would review the "underlying concerns" that prompted the initial investigation performed by Forensic Strategic Solutions, as well as gather "more information about the scope of work actually performed by FSS."

"Based on that review, we will evaluate whether there are some additional opportunities for improved efficiency and effectiveness," Hashbarger said in the email, which Richman provided to Forum News Service.

The audit will cover the fall 2014 semester to the fall 2018 semester, and the report should be issued around December, according to Hashbarger's letter, which Gallion provided to Forum News Service.

Higher education board members voted to hire an independent firm in May to review complaints regarding the college's finances, space utilization and the TrainND program. In July, the report recommended monitoring an accounting system for TrainND.

The independent report didn't find any improprieties with TrainND's finances or with three capital projects it reviewed, however. And on space utilization, the report said: "Our analysis identified a process that was performed transparently in the categorization of NDSCS rooms and reasons for the changes in room categorizations."

In an interview, Richman welcomed the examination from Gallion's office.

"We have a very healthy culture of continuous improvement on our campus," he said.

NDSCS is based in Wahpeton and has a satellite campus in Fargo.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

(701) 255-5607