Rhode Island's public colleges have proposed legislation to establish their own purchasing departments to spend money raised from tuition and fees.

Now, the state needs the approval of its purchasing office, a process that school administrators find cumbersome.

Robert Weygand, vice president for finance and administration at the University of Rhode Island and a former congressman and lieutenant governor, told the House Finance Committee recently that delays in state approval of contracts threaten the scheduled opening of the new Hillside Hall at the college's main campus in Kingston.

State approval for the project — the school had raised $42 million in bond money — did not come until early April. Weygand told The Bond Buyer that he had hoped for approval by late January.

"The faster we can get in and out and complete our projects, the more competitive we can be as a university," Weygand said.

He also said similar delays for another dormitory project triggered overcrowding last September, as fire-code upgrades were pending.

"We had a lot of freshmen that had to triple up," he said.

The state's public colleges are URI, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island.

Weygand said most states don't have this problem.

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