In response to allegations that officials in the technology department did not appropriately follow Virginia laws when purchasing computer software, the University of Mary Washington recently held a training session for top administrators on contract procedures for buying goods and services.
The allegations, outlined in a Dec. 15, 2009 audit report through the confidential state employee fraud, waste and abuse hotline, said that Khalil Yazdi, chief information officer and vice president for Information Technology and Institutional Research, was not following state guidelines. Yazdi is one of UMW’s top administrators.
The allegations against Yazdi were investigated by UMW Director of Internal Audit Tera Kovanes and found to be substantial and in violation of the Virginia Public Procurement Act, the report concluded. The document was provided to the Bullet following a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Dr. Yazdi has invited vendors to demonstrate their software solutions that subsequently were procured without reasonable competition. The above facts gives the appearance of preferential selection of vendors,” the audit report, written by Kovanes, said.
In two incidents reviewed, “the invitation to demonstrate software…was limited to one ‘qualified’ vendor in which Dr. Yazdi had prior business relationships,” the report added.
The Virginia Public Procurement Act states “…that all procurement procedures be conducted in a fair and impartial manner.”
Yazdi, who joined UMW in August 2008 after working for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education in a similar role, did not wish to comment on the allegations.
Kovanes recommended in her memo that Yazdi learn more about proper procurement procedures.
In response to the allegations, President Judy Hample investigated the complaint made to the hotline, and then rejected the findings.
“It is my belief that the internal auditor has intentionally attempted—and perhaps succeeded—in undermining the professional standing of Dr. Yazdi in the eyes of the Board, but without any substance to support her conclusions,” Hample said in her response.
Kovanes had no comment on Hample’s response. She said that the Board of Visitors is aware of the audit report.
Hample also responded by having a procurement training session on March 10 for senior officials, including Yazdi. A representative from the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, an organization that provides information technology for the government, came for the training, according to Kovanes.
According to the audit report, the investigation cost $12,617.90, at an hourly rate of $66.41.