Contract office to launch next month

Alan Phillips, vice president of Administration and Finance

Alan Phillips, vice president of Administration and Finance

By Alexander Chettiath

The Division of Administration and Finance plans to have a three-employee contract office up and running within the next month, said Alan Phillips, Vice President of Administration and Finance.

The contracts office will handle the procurement process, or “getting things through the system,” which currently takes 74 steps and close to 19 weeks to complete, Phillips said. A procurement is an agreement in which a buyer agrees to acquire goods or services in exchange for consideration.

“It’s probably not necessary for our $200 booth at Cornfest to go through all 74 steps and end up on my desk where only I can sign it,” Phillips said.

The creation of the contracts office is related to NIU consultant Ron Walters’ improper reimbursement in spring 2015, Phillips said.

Walters, a consultant to NIU President Doug Baker, was asked to repay $32,000 after a state audit found he was improperly reimbursed for travel services by the university, according to an April 2 Northern Star article. The state’s audit also found NIU was starting work with companies before the companies had their contracts fully approved.

The contract office will have standardized forms and templates for low dollar, low risk procurements while high risk procurements may need all the steps, Phillips said.

The office is part of the process reengineering initiative, headed by Phillips, whose future projects may include the process to make changes to the website and the OneCard system.