FAMU Task Force: Oversight's on a lean budget
The high-profile task force overseeing FAMU's finances won't be able to hire a consultant and may have to scale back its work in light of less-than-expected legislative funding, its chair said Friday. The task force wanted $3 million. It got $1 million. "We're going to have a difficult job picking and choosing the things we can accomplish," chair Lynn Pappas told other members in a conference call. "It is not the scope of work I went into this hoping to accomplish."
The Board of Governors formed the task force in March, after the most recent state audit found continuing fiscal problems at FAMU. The group was considering hiring a consultant that specializes in higher-ed turnarounds, but even $3 million probably would have been short, given how much such consultants typically charge for work on comparable projects, Pappas said. Instead, the task force will have to think long and hard about exactly what it wants to accomplish, and see if there are creative ways to draw resources and expertise from other universities, she said. Decisions about that will be made at the group's next meeting, tentatively scheduled for late June.
On a related issue, the task force decided it will weigh in on the next round of appointments to the FAMU Board of Trustees. Three positions are now vacant, with two to be filled by the Board of Governors and one by Gov. Crist. At the recommendation of the task force, Pappas will recommend in writing that the replacements have expertise in fiscal matters. That background is "critical," said task force member Joelen Merkel, an accountant who also serves as audit committee chair for the University of Florida Board of Trustees. "Part of the issue FAMU has faced is that it did not have that pool of knowledge to help them."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter