Response sought to UNR bid-rig claim

Top lawmakers called Thursday for a fresh response to allegations of continued bid-rigging on maintenance work at University of Nevada, Reno.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio told the university system to look into the complaint, and Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins will submit a bill requiring a systemwide audit.

"These are concerns that could affect the operational cost of the system," said Raggio, R-Reno.

He directed the state higher education system to respond after Reno small business owner Greg MacRenaris raised the issue at a joint meeting of Assembly and Senate money committees.

MacRenaris' previous allegations of UNR bid-rigging led to an internal audit and changes to the university's bidding process.

But that internal audit failed to investigate more than a dozen no-bid contracts totaling nearly $5 million, and MacRenaris said Thursday that problems continue.

Partly in response to such allegations, Perkins, D-Henderson, last month submitted a bill draft request for a legislative audit. The plan follows up on a similar proposal that was shelved late in the 2001 Legislature.

The last legislative audit of the Nevada University and Community College System was in 1996. By the time a new audit is done, the previous audit would be eight years old.

Chancellor Jane Nichols said Thursday that the recent self-audit and changes at the university had "fixed the problem."

However, she said she's open to a new audit as long as the Legislature pays for it.

MacRenaris did several small solar-screening projects at UNR but was turned down when he proposed a $590,000 project for university buildings several years ago.

He claimed that UNR posted several recent "open bids" for energy efficiency projects in newspapers but allowed companies only four days to respond.

"The business community of Nevada has been taken out of the fair bidding process," MacRenaris said. "The good ol' boy system is alive and well in this state."


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