UNM regents give up power over purchasing - Albuquerque Journal

UNM regents give up power over purchasing

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents decided to keep their hands off multimillion dollar purchases by the university, opting instead to give UNM administrators the power to make such decisions.

On Tuesday, regents during a regular meeting voted to change a policy to remove a provision that requires the board to authorize the purchase of goods and services of more than $1 million.

Going forward, the university’s chief procurement officer will approve expenses between $1 million and $5 million and the UNM president will sign off on more expensive contracts.

The university president will have to notify the president of the regents that the school is going to buy something worth more than $5 million. And such expenses will have to be reported to the full board at the next regular meeting. But the regents won’t have a say in authorizing the charges.

UNM regents in recent years have taken several steps to transfer power over administrative matters at the university to the school president as opposed to regents, who are volunteer board members appointed by the governor. For example, last year the regents gave the university president the power to sign off on legal settlements worth less than $1 million and hire and fire the executive director of the Health Sciences Center without their approval.

Teresa Costantinidis, UNM’s senior vice president for Finance and Administration, said the purchasing policy was changed because the university has missed out on bargains while waiting for regent approval. She said the university had to pass on multi-year deals for software or other programs because officials couldn’t get regent approval before a promotional window closed.

“The current practices in the policy resulted in procurement delays, that actually increased costs for the university,” she said.

The policy change only pertains to buying goods and services. It doesn’t pertain to capital projects or legal settlements. Last year, the regents voted to give UNM President Garnett Stokes the power to sign off on $1 million settlements. The cap had been set at $400,000.

Regent Jack Fortner said he was slightly uncomfortable with the proposal, though he did ultimately support the change.

“Part of our job as the board of regents is (providing) some sort of fiscal oversight,” he said.

Fortner pushed for an amendment requiring the UNM president to at least notify the regent president prior to making a purchase of more than $5 million, which wasn’t originally included in the proposed changes.

UNM made about 50 purchases in the last five years that would have been affected by the policy change. Most of the purchases pertain to the UNM Health Sciences Center. Subscriptions to software programs, periodicals for the HSC and main campus libraries and a magnetic resonance imaging scanner were some of those purchases.

Regents voted 6-0 to approve the change, with Regent Kim Sanchez Rael abstaining.


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