UT-Austin investigating former procurement official after review finds irregularities

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The University of Texas at Austin campus. Tamir Kalifa for The Texas Tribune

The University of Texas at Austin is investigating financial irregularities tied to a former procurement director who resigned from the system flagship in mid-April and now holds a similar position at the Austin Independent School District.

An internal UT review found that former Assistant Vice President for Procurement, Business and Payment Services Felix Alvarez double-dipped on travel funds, may have misused purchasing cards and raffled off athletic tickets for personal gain, costing the university several thousand dollars, according to one source who has seen the document. The review has not been released publicly and appears to be related to a university police investigation.

Alvarez did not respond to requests for comment.

In August and September, The Texas Tribune requested memorandums and reports about UT’s procurement practices and the university’s assistant vice president for procurement — the position Alvarez held until April. But the university’s police department objected to releasing the information because “it relates to and is being utilized in the investigation of an ongoing criminal investigation,” according to a letter sent from a UT System lawyer to the Attorney General’s office. The Tribune received the letter as part of the public information request process.

Asked about the internal review, a UT-Austin spokesperson, J.B. Bird, said he could not provide information beyond the letter.

Alvarez is the second UT-Austin official to come under scrutiny in recent months for allegedly running afoul of the university’s financial processes. In September, a university investigation found the law school’s former facilities director, Jason Shoumaker, defrauded UT out of nearly $1.6 million, not including some $270,000 paid to an outside law firm hired to review his activities and the university’s practices.

That investigation found that lax oversight allowed Shoumaker to get away with a host of financial and professional improprieties, including falsifying documents, making questionable purchases, and funneling payments to vendors who may have been friends and associates. He was indicted by a Travis County grand jury last December on counts of theft, money laundering and abuse of official capacity.