State auditors first notified Southern Connecticut State University that it overpaid employees in a December 2000 audit, a problem that persists unresolved in the most recent audit, issued almost 11 years later.
The Auditors of Public Accounts reviewed ten payments to employees in 1998 and 1999 for unused sick and vacation time and found none the payments were correct. The university overpaid eight employees and underpaid the remaining two.
The overpayments totaled $8,490, while the combined underpayment was $2,618. The net average overpayment was $587 per employee.
According to audit reports, SCSU sent a letter to the Attorney General’s Office, run by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal at the time, seeking legal advice in August 2003.
“Basically, the OAG has determined that there was a misunderstanding about this audit issue,” said Susan Kinsman, spokesman for current Attorney General George Jepsen. “This office was unaware that SCSU was waiting for any advice on the collection issue. As a result of the questions raised and a review of the most recent audit, we will communicate with SCSU and resolve the misunderstanding.”
“There were no written responses provided to the university,” Kinsman said.
“This is a complex issue,” said Patrick Dilger, spokesman for SCSU. “Obviously there has been a breakdown in communication, but the university is actively working with the attorney general’s office to resolve the matter.”
Blumenthal’s senate office did not respond to requests for comment.
In a June 2004 audit, auditors reported that the university had attempted to calculate how many of the 274 employees who left SCSU between 1997 and 2001 it paid incorrectly.
Auditors also reported that a former employee who had been overpaid, refused to repay the money because the employee’s attorney questioned the accuracy of SCSU’s records. In response, SCSU suspended its collection efforts.
The auditors prompted SCSU to get legal advice from Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. SCSU wrote a letter to Blumenthal’s office on Aug. 26, 2003.
In a January 2006 report, auditors said, “As of this report date, such legal advice had not been received. A University representative informed us that they will act upon such advice when received.”
The university was still awaiting legal advice in June 2007 and had continued to incorrectly pay employees when they left the university, according to auditors.
Yet another audit, from February 2009, reported that SCSU had underpaid another employee and still had not resolved the collection issues, at that point a decade old.