The South Carolina Higher Education Efficiency and Administrative Policies Act, signed into law on August 3 by Gov. Nikki Haley, is a big step for transparency in South Carolina's public institutions. The twofold law requires them to post all purchasing transactions online and eliminates portions of the timely and costly process for having new facilities or major purchases approved.
Charles Tegen, comptroller at Clemson University, says the transparency act started making its way through the legislature three years ago, but it wasn't able to pass through the House and Senate until an administrative efficiencies aspect was included.
"It's really just a start," says Tegen. "We're appreciative that the legislature has entrusted our governing board and the administration to work together with other institutions in the state to make sure we're the most competitive and the most efficient in the way we utilize our resources."
Under the law, institutions are required to post an expenditure register online. It can be as simple as a list of companies and the amount spent, or as complex as Clemson's, which outlines exactly what was purchased and what it will be used for. "I figured if we're going to do it, let's do something that adds value," shares Tegen.
Time and effort in getting project approval will also be reduced. Previously, for renovation projections exceeding $500,000, Tegen and his staff had to go through various institutional and state approval levels. The process could have taken four to five months. Now, they can enter into contracts up to $1 million without all the extra steps in a much quicker time period. "It gives us a lot more flexibility and will reduce some of the administrative costs and redundant administrative approvals that are out there."
Clemson's Spending Transparency website can be found at http://transpend.clemson.edu.