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UMass Medical School bonuses reviewed

Top officials at the University of Massachusetts Medical School collected just over $2 million in bonuses over a three-year period that were not properly documented, according to a new report from State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump’s office.

The bonus tally, which covered fiscal years 2010-2012, included a combined $367,500 in payments during fiscal 2010 and 2011 to the medical school’s chancellor, Michael F. Collins, according to the audit report, which Bump’s office released Thursday.

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Auditors requested documentation to support the payments to Collins, the report said, but the medical school “could not provide us with an official copy of the chancellor’s contract or other documentation that detailed eligibility and/or criteria for the bonus payments made in fiscal years 2010 and 2011.”

A spokeswoman for Collins said he was not available for comment on Thursday evening.

In a written response to the audit that was included in Bump’s final report, the university said the $367,500 figure that auditors cited included $102,900 in nonbonus annuity payments.

Collins became interim chancellor in June 2007 and was appointed to the permanent post in September 2008, according to his biography posted on the school’s website.

“The employment contract for his new position as chancellor of the Medical School had not yet been executed at the time of the bonus payments mentioned,” the university said, referring to the fiscal 2010 and 2011 payments. “Therefore, the aforementioned bonus payments were based on his performance and achievements during the interim and approved by the president of the university.”

UMass added that it will “continue to maintain appropriate supporting documentation” for Collins’s bonuses, as the school did in fiscal 2012 and 2013. And, UMass said, an internal review of Collins’s payouts in fiscal 2010 and 2011 will be conducted to “confirm reasonableness.”

Collins was the highest-paid state employee last year, earning $816,602, according to public payroll records.

The remainder of the $2 million went to other medical school employees who are not named in the audit report.

Separately in the audit, Bump’s staff wrote that UMass and unspecified law enforcement agencies are investigating two “alleged thefts” from the university system. The report provided no information about the cases, and UMass declined to comment, citing the pending review.

Robert Connolly — spokesman for UMass president Robert L. Caret, who was elected in January 2011 — said that careful stewardship of state funds is a top priority throughout the university system.

“We are pleased that in a three-year, comprehensive review of our $2 billion-plus operations, the state auditor found that the university’s financial practices, in the aggregate, were in conformance with the applicable standards, procedures, and laws,” Connolly said in a statement.

“Still, we can always do better, and UMass is committed to continuous improvement in every area of activity.”

According to the audit, score cards tracking the performance of bonus-eligible employees are used to calculate the payouts. The cards show the progress employees have made in achieving various goals.

But during the audit, the medical school could not provide score cards for nine out of 29 payments reviewed, Bump’s office said.

In addition, 19 out of 20 score cards that were available showed no evidence of direct supervisory review, according to the audit.

In a statement to the Globe, the medical school in Worcester said it was pleased that auditors found no evidence that the payments were inappropriate and that the school is taking steps to address the concerns outlined in the report.

“In the auditor’s view, the regular, direct, and active supervision of [bonus] goals could have been more clearly documented in central files, and we have adjusted our practices to do so going forward,” the statement said.

The school added that the bonus program, which began in fiscal 2010, was launched to ensure that administrators were “competitively compensated for their work in helping the institution achieve its goals” and that only 4 percent of the medical school’s overall operating budget for fiscal 2013 comes from state revenues.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@
globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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