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NIU ignored ethics requirements, wasted public money: state watchdog

Northern Illinois University's Altgeld Hall. | Provided photo

DEKALB — A state watchdog contends Northern Illinois University administrators routinely ignored ethics requirements in hiring five consultants and wasted public money.

In a report released Wednesday, the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General says the university hired the consultants in 2013 and 2014, employed them under the wrong classification and kept them on staff too long.

As a result, more than $1 million in taxpayer funds were spent, well in excess of allowed limits.

Doug Baker, president of Northern Illinois University. | Provided photo

In a statement Wednesday, NIU President Doug Baker says he has worked with the university’s trustees to make several policy revisions on hiring and compensation.

The report asserts that since Baker took office in 2013, the university has repeatedly misclassified high-level, highly paid consultants as affiliate employees.It says that was done “for the purpose of circumventing the Procurement Code’s requirements.”

The report went on to say Baker is “responsible for mismanaging NIU’s resources.”

In an emailed statement, Eleni Demertzis, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bruce Rauner said, “We are deeply concerned regarding the findings of this report. At this time, we are currently reviewing the findings to determine further action.”