North Dakota higher education leaders have finalized an action plan for a Wahpeton-based college after state legislators declined to forward information on a negative audit to the Attorney General’s Office.
The North Dakota University System released on Wednesday Chancellor Mark Hagerott’s additions to an action plan drafted by the North Dakota State College of Science. The seven-page document lists strategies to ensure conflicts of interest are disclosed by staff, improve the process for providing open records and answering audit requests, make sure funds for TrainND are spent properly and issue reports regarding TrainND goals and revenue.
“NDSCS has had an opportunity to review the additional requirements that Chancellor Hagerott has put forward,” College President John Richman said in a statement. “He has made positive additions to the action plan. NDSCS looks forward to working with Chancellor Hagerott and his staff to successfully implement this thorough and thoughtful action plan.”
The action plan is a response to a state auditor’s report that found NDSCS failed to provide documents to the auditor’s office on a to-be-implemented career workforce academy. Specifically, the audit found Tony Grindberg, the school's vice president of workforce affairs, was involved in hiring Flint Group to promote the academy.
The audit also found Grindberg did not disclose that his wife is the chief financial officer for Flint Group, and state and local funds were used for fundraising efforts to pay for the career academy without State Board of Higher Education approval.
Richman and NDSCS have rebutted claims it misled the auditor’s office, among other claims from the audit.
SBHE members were divided last month when deciding whether to adopt the college’s action plan or implement a temporary oversight plan — NDUS staff would have kept a closer eye on workforce department operations, though Richman would still have the final say on decisions.
Instead, the action plan was adopted, but Hagerott was allowed to make further additions.
The plan doesn’t appear to implement further NDUS oversight at the college. It does require NDSCS to submit documentation to the university system and make policy changes to improve TrainND and workforce affairs procedures.
The changes do not need final approval from the SBHE.
The finalization’s announcement came just hours after the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee voted on a motion to send the NDSCS audit to the Attorney General’s Office. That failed 10-8, but the issue likely will resurface at a future meeting.
The audit notes potential criminal charges that could stem from the findings, but only the SBHE and legislative committee have the power to forward the report to prosecutors. SBHE members discussed the possible violations during several meetings but stopped short of sending the audit to a prosecutor.
Hagerott said he is focused on the action plan and helping NDSCS move forward.