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July 13, 2024

More “Internal Controls” issues for Dr. Douglas Baker of NIU –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On June 6, 2017

Northern Illinois University, DEKALB, IL. (ECWd) –

Is Dr. Baker of NIU sitting on another negative report about his administration?

We have obtained FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) results that indicate that the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees have engaged the firm of Franczek Radelet Attorney’s and Counselors to investigate whether or not NIU had proper “Internal Controls” over contracts.

The attached FOIA results of the hourly charge for the investigation (5722-Redacted FOIA2 3.21.17 – 1.pdf) shows that the total charge on this invoice was $148.638.06. The subject of this investigation may be indicated by the entry made on 9/28/2016 by S. Warner. The subject of this entry is Locate six contracts for transmittal to witness’s counsel; revise policy documents.” was obtained by a additional FOIA.

These six contracts were requested in an additional FOIA (5730-Redacted-FOIA1-3.30.17) and indicate that the subject of the investigation may be the firm of Urban Green LLC which is a California company owned by a Mr. Jim Heid.

The six contracts are as follows:

Exhibit # Page numbers   Contract

60 1-15                  Consultant will provide consulting services to the University staff and consulting AE team regarding design and planning of thirteen Summer and fall High Impact Campus Improvement Projects, and assist in defining future Spring 2015 projects, (Urban Green prime contract)

15   16-25                Consultant shall provide sustainable development consulting services and deliver to University deliverables in accordance with the project objectives communicated by University to Consultant. (Urban Green prime contract)

65 26-101              Capital Improvement Project P2275 – Douglas Hall Demolition & Lucinda Avenue Extension_ on the campus of Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, (Urban Green subcontract)

52   102-168              In connection with Capital Improvement Project -P2275· Douglas Hall Demolition- Lucinda Avenue Extension-Preliminary Work (“Project”) on the campus of Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois (Urban Green subcontract)

76 169-221            In connection with Capital Improvement Project – P2344 -DeKalb Campus Central Core Redevelopment Framework (“Project”) on the campus of Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, Vendor shall provide CAMPUS CORE FRAMEWORK PLANNING services (Urban Green subcontract)

37 222-246            The Initial Task Order under this contract is intended to produce a series of recommendations for use by the Administration and Facilties Department at NIU, as well as local civic leaders and stakeholders to chart a course for improvement on the campus and neighborhoods surrounding NIU. (Urban Green prime contract)

A move by members of the University’s Faculty Senate to have a no confidence vote about Dr. Baker gives us additional insight. One faculty senator wrote on page 21 (bullet point 11) of the March 29, 2017 (HERE) that Jim Heid was illegally hired and then the Faculty Senate received this response from Dr. Baker (page 35):

  1. Jim Heid: Upon investigating this matter last year, the university discovered that Mr. Heid had contributed to the drafting of a Request for Proposal (RFP) that his company eventually ended up being a subcontractor for on the final project. It was also discovered that the university did not have sufficient ways to identify this potential conflict and address it through the RFP process. The university took the following steps to correct this and prevent it from occurring in the future: the Procurement and Contract Management Department organizational structure was revised to be more effective; two Associate Directors with significant subject-matter expertise were hired; and an automated Purchase Order system was developed to replace the slower manual process. The end results are reduced time to complete a purchase order, improved accuracy, and better accountability.

Is Dr. Baker under investigation for contract issues other than the hiring issues as has recently has come to light under the OEIG? There seems to be a clue in the legal bills. The FOIA (HERE) shows that NIU paid Mintz Levin $24,699.85 to represent him about an investigation over “Internal Controls”.

Another clue is that the six contracts that involve Mr. Heid are integral to this investigation is that on page 3, R. D. Cotton (Baker’s very expensive lawyer and partner in the firm) received the 6 contracts from Ellen Babbit (Franczek Radelet Investigator). Shouldn’t this pattern of contract manipulation be questioned by the BOT and acted upon? Who is this Jim Heid and why was he hired? What is Mr. Heid’s connection with Dr. Baker? A quick check of the internet shows that Mr. Heid was an adviser to the University of Idaho’s College of Art and Architecture along with Dr. Baker’s friend Ron Walters (OEIG report). Coincidence?

There are more questions then answers and we as citizens deserve the answers.


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