Houston Community College Statement on Chris Oliver's Sentence
Jan 8, 2018
Former trustee Chris Oliver was sentenced today after having plead guilty to a bribery scheme in which he is alleged to have accepted cash and gift cards in exchange for his promise to use his position to help a vendor obtain contracts with the college.
Describing the former trustee’s actions as "reprehensible" this past July, the board voted unanimously to formally censure Oliver, strip him of his vice chair role, freeze his spending account and remove him from all committees, including the audit committee he had chaired.
Trustee Oliver’s secretive actions violated already existing procedures that prohibit trustees from communicating with vendors and college evaluators about a solicitation while the solicitation is underway (commonly known as “the blackout period”).
The college, which uses anonymous committees to evaluate vendor proposals, has since added procedures designed to assist it in detecting violations in the future. Additional procedures include:
- requiring that contacts by vendors, vendor agents, trustees, or unauthorized college employees with an evaluation committee member be reported to the Chancellor and the compliance officer
- taking immediate disciplinary action including terminating employment of any evaluator who fails to disclose an unauthorized contact during the blackout period
- barring vendors and vendor subcontractors who violate the blackout rule from participating in the solicitation
- in addition to the existing requirement that vendors submit written conflicts disclosures at the time of solicitation, vendors who obtain contracts with the college are now required to annually provide updated conflicts disclosures.
The college has also hired outside consultants to review its procurement history and to provide recommendations for further strengthening the college’s procedures.
“I am disappointed about what the former trustee has done, but actions have consequences and I believe justice has been served,” said Board Chair Eva Loredo. “Our task now is to regain the public trust. The college has already adopted new procedures and authorized an independent review to see if additional improvements to our systems can be made. Our goal is to put in place the strongest anti-corruption measures possible. We are committed to ensuring that the future is one that is worthy of our students and the community we serve."
“Our faculty and staff are committed to delivering the best education and working closely with our students to ensure their future success,” said Chancellor Cesar Maldonado. “We have already added several procedures that will ensure that the college’s procurement processes are among the most stringent and comprehensive of any college in the nation and our review process is ongoing. For the past decade, the college has been recognized by leading national authorities for its financial procedures and for the past two years it has been one of only 25 colleges and universities in the country to receive an Achievement of Excellence Award in procurement. We are committed to serving our students, and they are why we are working so hard as an administration to ensure we implement the best, most stringent practices to protect the institution. We will continue to advocate for new ideas and practices that forward our already leading practices and protocols.”