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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published May 25 2010

Retired attorney to review projects

A former federal prosecutor will begin an investigation today into violations of laws and policies in recent building projects at North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota.

The North Dakota University System will contract with David Peterson, who is retired from the Bismarck U.S. attorney’s office, to perform the investigation.

A committee of the state Board of Higher Education met Monday to approve the scope of the investigation and authorize Chancellor Bill Goetz to enter into the contract.

The board asked for the investigation following a recent audit that found noncompliance with laws, policies and procedures.

The investigation will look into four projects at NDSU and one project at UND. They are:

-NDSU Old Main renovation, which includes the president’s office.

-NDSU president’s home.

-NDSU’s Richard H. Barry Hall.

-NDSU’s Bison Sports Arena.

-UND’s Twamley Hall renovation, which includes the president’s office.

The UND president’s house will not be part of the investigation. Goetz said the cost overruns were less significant and the university did not use institutional money in the project.

The scope of the work includes identifying people who knowingly circumvented laws and policies or were instrumental in the decision to violate laws and policies.

It also seeks to identify root causes that allowed the events to occur and identify other areas of noncompliance.

The board may expand the scope of the audit depending on the findings.

Peterson will be paid $225 per hour. It will be funded through the university system office budget.

Goetz said he doesn’t expect the investigation will require a lot of hours. He would like it completed in June.

The board’s Budget, Audit and Finance Committee also discussed plans to adopt a new internal audit function for the university system.

A proposal will be presented to the committee and the board in June.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590