ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Albuquerque Public Schools are toughening up rules to end waste, fraud and abuse of APS resources. It comes after former administrator Sheryl Williams Stapleton was caught stealing millions of dollars from the district. The APS Education Council unanimously approved the new procurement policy this week, hoping that in the future, anyone who manages APS money will know that there has rules to follow.
Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton Cover / The Story Continues Below
Rennette Apodaca is the executive director of procurement for APS. “It gave us the ability to put everything together, so now it’s documented, it’s commemorated and it’s approved by the board,” Apodaca said.
The APS board of directors unanimously adopted new procurement rules at a meeting this week. “We wanted to make sure that you know all of our employees, salespeople, and anyone who has anything to do with any type of purchase, really knows that all of these procedures really apply to all of us,” said Tami Coleman, the Financial Director of APS.
It all comes after former APS employee and state legislator Sheryl Williams Stapleton is accused of overseeing a company called “Robotics” that has been paid over $ 5 million over the years by APS. However, investigators say his software never actually worked. Authorities say nearly $ 1 million from the contract went to businesses and charities run by Stapleton. “Yes, there were gaps, there were mistakes that we should have caught, but the most important thing is to develop policy, training and practice,” said Barbara Petersen, who is on the committee. APS policies and instructions.
The APS says it did not have a formal procurement policy in place before that, but followed state and federal guidelines. “APS had a decent purchasing division. The problem is that the leadership did not fully support their independent oversight and so other very powerful and influential people in the APS were able to break and circumvent the law, ”New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said.
Now, APS employees involved in the procurement process will need to adhere to a new code of conduct and ensure that it is executed competitively, impartially and transparently. “It’s really primarily the responsibility of the purchasing office to really lock in the internal controls that are necessary for us to make sure we’re following good processes and treating taxpayer funds with the utmost respect they deserve,” Coleman said. .
Under this policy, APS employees are prohibited from participating in the procurement process if their family members have something to gain financially from the contract. Several APS employees were put on leave as the internal investigation into the Stapleton case was conducted. A tentative trial date for Stapleton is set for December next year.