LANHAM, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - After a state report showed Prince George’s County Public Schools is not following the law when awarding contracts, the head of schools says there will be a deeper investigation to determine the reasons why and if there was criminal intent.
Interim CEO Dr. Monica Goldson is calling for a forensic audit by an outside agency to look at 13 sole-source contracts worth $6.8 million that did not have school board approval or any justification for being sole-sourced.
State investigators with the Office of Legislative Audits did a random sample of contracts in their audit, so problems identified could be more prevalent.
FOX 5 asked Dr. Goldson Tuesday if school employees could have been getting kickbacks from the contracts in question.
“That's what a forensic audit will actually reveal,” Goldson said.
She went on to say the audit will look for ethical wrongdoing and criminality.
Prince George's County is the state's second-largest school system with a $2 billion budget and the ability to hire hundreds of vendors. State investigators found contracts were awarded to vendors that weren't the best or the cheapest and contracts going to certain vendors with no competition or school board approval as state law requires. The audit specifies $80 million worth of contracts lacking proper justification or board approval.
What's worse is the same state investigators found the same issues in past audits. In 2014, auditors found “PGCPS could not provide documentation that awards were properly made for 12 contracts valued at $13 million.”
In 2006, auditors found “PGCPS did not maintain required documentation justifying the use of sole-source procurement totaling $1 million.”
FOX 5 asked Dr. Goldson why changes weren’t made after prior findings.
“What I can tell you is that we have now selected an ethics and compliance officer whose sole job is to make sure that we follow up on every finding of every audit that exists,” she said. “What I don't want to do is be back in the same spot four years from now.”
Dr. Goldson used to be the chief operating officer of the school system, meaning she oversaw the procurement department.
“(I) definitely had no sense that there was a contract that was not being awarded properly,” she said.
Questions remain about who did know about it. Goldson said criminal prosecution is on the table.
“If that's what comes out of that audit then that's what we'll do,” said Goldson.