An investigation into allegations of excessive travel spending by the president of Montgomery College did not identify any wrongdoing, but did lead to a call for transparency.
A Montgomery County Council committee on Monday reviewed the office of the inspector general inquiry prompted by an NBC4 TV news story questioning college President DeRionne Pollard’s official expenses. Council member Craig Rice said his confidence in Pollard never wavered, and he was glad to see the inspector general found no evidence of impropriety.
“People have a right to ask questions,” he said. “But I’m happy to see that the answers are very clear.”
The November news report showed Pollard had racked up more than $70,000 in travel expenses since 2013, averaging 13 trips over the prior two years. Included in the sum were thousands spent on upgrading seats and carrying extra and overweight baggage, according to NBC4.
In Pollard’s contract, the college agreed to foot the bill for all of her work-related trips, the report showed.
Edward Blansitt, the county’s inspector general, said his office’s review did determine the publicly-supported community college didn’t fully exercise the oversight role outlined in Pollard’s employment contract. However, the provision—which allowed an external auditor to review her proposed travel budget—is not effective anyway, he said.
“There’s no way an external auditor could look at a proposed travel budget and make a determination that a proposed business travel is necessary,” Blansitt said.
Blansitt recommended the provision be excluded from future employment contracts with the college president. The report also suggested the president’s expenses should be reviewed by a financial statement auditor on an annual basis. Finally, the college’s board of trustees should make sure the travel records are transparent to students, staff members, taxpayers and donors, according to the OIG report.
Marsha Suggs Smith, chair of the board of trustees, told Rice her panel will embrace the inspector general’s suggestions and also took the opportunity to lavish praise on Pollard.
“She is not the type of president that uses us, Montgomery County, as a notch in her belt. Instead, she’s become a part of the community,” she said.