According to findings from the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, the University of Central Florida had a strategy in place to obscure nearly $85 million in construction spending between 2013 and 2018.
First reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, UCF had a “multi-year stratagem” to misrepresent how it spent state operating funds, which earmarked for instruction and research projects.
The first inkling of a violation was uncovered in August, when an audit found the university used $38 million in operating funds to build the 137,000-square-foot Trevor Colbourn Hall, which opened its doors last fall. The university’s then-CFO stepped down shortly after the audit.
More improperly funded projects were uncovered in the weeks after the state Auditor General report was released and a final audit of the university is due to the state on Jan. 30.
The new report from House Ethics Public Integrity Chair Tom Leek says the university’s state operating fund budgets listed the construction spending under deferred maintenance and general expenditures. Additionally, the report states administrators didn’t inform the UCF board of trustees the where the money for those projects was coming from.
Former UCF president John Hitt signed off on those budgets, as did current president and then-provost Dale Whittaker.
“A number of questions demand further investigation, which may include interviewing witnesses under oath,” Leek’s presentation says.
In addition to UCF’s spending violations, the report also details $6.4 million USF misspent building the Patel Center for Global Solutions. The university says it has since repaid those funds.