USM Laptop Purchase Questioned

The office of State Auditor Stacey Pickering and the state College Board are looking into whether the University of Southern Mississippi violated state law in the purchase and distribution of 700 tablets in July and August as part of a pilot program.

Auditor’s office spokeswoman Lisa Shoemaker tells the Hattiesburg American ( ) that College Board officials notified the auditor’s office of the possible violations last week.

USM paid Blackboard $432,000 to purchase the tablets, in addition to other mobile and design services.

Part of the inquiry concerns a possible failure to follow state bidding law.

There also is the question of whether the Blackboard contract violated College Board policy, with the $432,000 contract exceeding the $250,000 threshold requiring board approval.