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July 13, 2024

OEIG: “Pres Baker Mismanaged NIU” – “Pattern of Circumventing Procurement Rules” –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On June 1, 2017

DeKalb, IL. (ECWd) –

On May 31, 2017, the Office of the Executive Inspector General publicly released a scathing report of findings in a nearly three-year long investigation into complaints against several employees, including NIU President Douglas Baker, of Northern Illinois University. We have to say, there’s nothing like an OEIG final report that essentially validates what we wrote about NIU and these allegations.

Five complaints were sent to the OEIG naming five employees of NIU including President Douglas Baker and Ron Walters (Baker’s personal friend), Nancy Suttenfield, Ken Wilson, and William Pfeiffer.

Complaints consisted of allegations of improper hiring practices, procurement violations, improper reimbursements of travel, and housing in NIU facilities without charge.

All allegations were FOUNDED, with the exception of the improper travel payments and free lodging – and  no finding of FOUNDED was made only because the university had already taken action to recover the funds and issued amended IRS W-2 forms to those who receive the unauthorized allowances.

Some of the key findings in this OEIG investigation include:

  • improper classification of contractors and affiliate employees
  • deliberate circumvention of the procurement policies in hiring these consultants
  • improper payments of travel and lodging (in NIU dormitories)
  • continuing to provide travel and lodging after knowing the payments were improper
  • misuse of public credit card
  • improper circumventing procurement policy in hiring of an executive search firm
  • NIU paid over $1 million in public funds to consultants who were not selected through a competitive procurement process
  • the hiring of Wilson, Rodriguez, Walters, and Pfeiffer “was a sham because the work they did for NIU did not fit within the definition of affiliate employment.”
  • deliberate misclassification of employees for the purpose of circumventing competitive procurement
  • President Douglas Baker Mismanaged Northern Illinois University and it was not credible that President Baker to claimed he was unaware of inappropriate classifications

The OEIG’s recommendations?

For the Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University to “take whatever action it deems appropriate with regard to President Baker

05.25.17 Baker, Cunningham, Latham, and Hooker Released Report

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  • Richard Jarman
    Posted at 08:08h, 02 June Reply

    I thought that you would feel vindicated by that report. I caught the tail end of Baker on NPR mumbling about changing procedures so that this would not happen again. Shutting the stable door after you have been caught red-handed.

    • Sharon
      Posted at 08:53h, 02 June Reply

      The BoT knee jerk reaction was to completely eliminate the “affiliate” personnel category; but then realized they didn’t have a classification from which to pay temp teachers, and so had to again rewrite procedures. LOL.

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