Local News

State auditor looking at Office Depot deals again

Posted October 28, 2008 1:40 p.m. EDT

— The Office of the State Auditor, which recently alleged Office Depot had overcharged under a state contract, announced Tuesday that it is investigating a national contract under which North Carolina school districts, community and four-year colleges and some local governments and state agencies buy supplies.

A non-profit organization called the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance has the contract, Auditor Leslie W. Merritt Jr. said. State government spends about $3 million annually under it, he said. Local governments spend about $2 million.

U.S. Communities describes itself as "a national purchasing forum for local and state government agencies, school districts (K-12), higher education and non-profits nationwide by pooling the purchasing power of over 87,000 public agencies."

“We are going to look into the U.S. Communities Office Depot contract as it relates to state agencies. We are publicly announcing this audit so that municipal and county governments that have piggybacked on this contract can begin to examine whether they are getting the benefit that they bargained for,” Merritt said in announcing the review.

Last month, Merritt's office said it had found overcharges under an Office Depot contract with the state purchasing agency. That audit examined six months of purchases and identified $294,413 in net overcharges through direct testing of purchase orders.

“There are many local governments and school systems who are currently operating under a contract with Office Depot. Managers should call their purchasing departments to double check that taxpayers and students are getting the price breaks specified under the contract,” Merritt said.