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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published January 11 2013

North Dakota Legislative Notebook: Bank of ND asks Legislature to spend funds

BISMARCK – The Bank of North Dakota is asking the Legislature to spend funds it has received as a result of the Federal Student Loan Program.

Eric Hardmeyer, president and chief executive officer of the Bank of North Dakota, said on Thursday that the federal government first took away the bank’s ability to service their own loans as part of the federal loan program, but in return, gave the bank 100,000 student loans it could offer at a fixed interest rate.

The Bank of North Dakota subcontracted those loans to the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority for an initial $1.65 million plus an annual fee of about $270,000.

State law has kept the bank from spending the money, but Senate Bill 2096 would give the bank the opportunity to put those funds back into higher education, Hardmeyer said.

“We want to plow it back into higher education of some sort, whether that’s financial literacy, outreach or scholarships,” he said. “The bill gives us authority to spend it over a number of different areas.”

The bill was unanimously passed out of committee Thursday with a do pass motion. It will be taken in front of the entire Senate for consideration.

IT projects

The state’s Information Technology Department may see some changes to its procedures for large projects totaling more than $250,000.

Two pieces of legislation came before the Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee on Friday.

Senate Bill 2033 would define a “large project” within the department to any project that costs more than $500,000 – it’s currently defined at $250,000.

Lisa Feldner, chief information officer for the Information Technology Department, said there are a few projects now that are less than $500,000. Being defined as a large project increases the amount of oversight and paperwork on the a project.

“In order to increase workload, we can take staff from projects less than $500,000 and apply them to those over $500,000,” she told the committee. “That would also increase oversight on the larger projects.”

Senate Bill 2034 followed Beldner’s testimony and highlighted the need for oversight on large projects.

The bill would create an executive steering committee consisting of the Office of Management and Budget and the Attorney General to oversee the procurement, contract negotiation and administration of the project.

No committee action was taken on either bill.

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