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State audit critical of Howard Co. schools’ contracting, finances

Howard County Public Schools officials awarded nearly $13 million in contracts without a competitive bid, according to a report released Friday by the state Office of Legislative Audits.

The report found that while “the majority of procurements for goods and services…were handled appropriately,” at least 15 contracts were totaling $12.6 millions were doled out to sole bidders by senior management “without adequate justification,” according to the report.

Additionally, the auditor, in its 49-page review, reported that there was a lack of controls over personnel salaries, raising questions about the ability of employees to increase salaries without detection; that the system’s computer systems were not properly secured; and that the school system did not properly claim payments for employee and retiree health care costs.

This story will be updated.

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