NJ Comptroller: Rutgers contract practices still limit competition

By Keith Sargeant

Rutgers University continues to limit competition in the awarding of public contracts and its procedures could lead to inflated prices for goods and services at the state university, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Office of the State Comptroller.

The report, which was a follow-up to a 2011 audit of the university’s contract-awarding practice, found that Rutgers still is limiting competition to a select group of bids, although the university has stopped awarding contracts without competition by declaring the contract to be “in the best interest of the university.”

The State Comptroller’s report does not include any requirement that contracts must be awarded to the lowest bidder, but urges Rutgers to conduct its business in a “transparent and open process.’’

“Rutgers’ contracting process is more competitive today than it was when we conducted our audit in 2011,” said State Comptroller Matthew Boxer. “But we continue to be surprised by the university’s opposition to the basic notion of broad-based advertising of contracts funded by taxpayer dollars.”

Following its initial audit two years ago, legislation was introduced in both the state Senate and the state Assembly that would require Rutgers to establish bidding and contracting procedures mirroring the requirements of the State College Contracts Law. The legislation currently is before the Senate Higher Education Committee and the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

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