No paper trail on Sodexo price increases

catering_featureSodexo, Weber State University’s food provider, is required to submit justification for any price increases once a year. After an open records request, WSU was unable to produce these documents.

Brett Perozzi, associate vice president of student affairs, said the documents were turned in, but former Union Director Bill Fruth did not retain the information. Fruth left the university in January after serving as director for 10 years.

Fruth did not return multiple calls.

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According to Ron Smith, director of operations at accounting services, standard university practice is to keep business records on file for five years.

Perozzi said he hopes the new director will do a better job at retaining records if they are supposed to be retained.

Sodexo declined to release copies of these documents to the public citing business confidentiality.

In addition, university records show an internal audit on Dining Services has not been done since 2005, two years before Sodexo took over.

Bryce Barker, director of internal audit, said an audit had not occurred because university officials were satisfied that Sodexo was fulfilling its end of the contract, so no one has asked for one.

Sodexo is not limited to the annual price increases. It can raise prices due to unexpected events, such as a natural disaster that may increase the price of a food item. In these cases the contract still requires documentation for the price change.

Keith Murray, director of dining services at WSU, admitted that Sodexo doesn’t always turn in paperwork in emergency situations, saying that it is more efficient just to call the contract administrator on the phone and ask.

“In every contract there are little things that aren’t enforced,” Murray said.

The Shepherd Union director makes the decision to approve or disapprove the change. Current Interim Director Monika Rodie said no request had been made since she took over at the start of spring semester.

Jessica Alford, director of operations for Sodexo at WSU, explained that the reason Sodexo doesn’t turn in the documentation in emergency situations is because the university has not required it. Alford said annual reports are always handed in.

Noting that contracts can tie the hands of a contractor, Perozzi said he doesn’t mind Sodexo calling the contract administrator and agreeing to a price increase over the phone, as long as it’s followed up in writing.

“It’s about the spirit of the contract,” he said, adding that he believes contracts should be followed. Perozzi said when the contract is redone in 2016 he may look at changing some of the clauses.

Murray said forcing Sodexo and the university to do everything by the book would cost the company more money, and they would be forced to make that money up somewhere.

Perozzi said he didn’t know why Sodexo hasn’t been audited since it took over.