SALEM – A Secretary of State investigation of Mt. Hood Community College’s (MHCC) wilderness leadership program inventory identified missing equipment and questionable reimbursements. MHCC had already initiated an internal investigation, but asked the Secretary of State’s Audits Division for assistance.
Using MHCC purchase records, auditors identified about $13,000 in equipment that was missing from campus. Among those missing purchases, about $1,500 appeared to match personal gear requested by students. However, the college did not receive reimbursement for personal gear purchases even though emails indicated some students may have directly reimbursed instructors.
Auditors also noted instances of travel and purchase reimbursements that were in excess of the per diem rate, appeared contrary to policies, lacked sufficient detail, gave personal rewards benefits that may violate state policies, and paid instructors for purchases paid by a MHCC credit card. Secretary Brown has also submitted the report to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission for possible ethics violations.
“I appreciate the college’s cooperation with this investigation. Everyone involved cares very much about accounting for every taxpayer dollar,” said Secretary of State Kate Brown. “With these recommendations implemented and strong oversight by college administration, we expect this won’t happen again.”
In addition to issues in the one program, there were allegations about faculty or administrative staff complaints not being handled timely. Auditors noted college personnel had been addressing complaints though could improve its tracking of complaints and actions taken on those complaints.
Auditors recommended MHCC develop or update policies over inventory, purchase card use, travel reimbursement, and grant reimbursements. In addition, auditors recommend maintaining a central listing of faculty and staff complaints and the actions taken.
The report, including the agency response, can be found at www.sos.state.or.us/audits.
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