Vendor voices frustrations as the UW admits to being behind on $69 million in unpaid invoices

The University of Washington is behind on its bills. The UW has confirmed that over the summer they switched to a new accounting system and ever since, a number of suppliers haven’t been getting paid.

Suppliers told us they are getting fed up and want their money.

We spoke with Dan Sharron, a business owner who told us the UW owes him nearly $200,000. Sharron does audio-video setup for the UW. He never had a payment issue until this summer, when the university switched its accounting system. Now he has several bills months past due.

“Right now we are owed the better part of $200,000. Of which, a little bit over $125,000 is past due,” said Sharron.

And he’s not the only one. The UW told us it’s currently behind on about 12% of its bills. That comes out to $69 million in unpaid invoices.

“It’s caused a lot of financial issues for us. And I’m sure for other small businesses of our size,” said Sharron. “Because we’ve not gotten paid in so long, we’re having trouble paying vendors and things because of it. And this needs to be resolved as soon as possible.”

He told us the terms of their payment are to be compensated within 30 days but that’s not happening.

We reached out to the UW who said, “It’s a very complex situation and it’s a project that has been in the works for a few years. We have notified vendors that there could be delays in some payments after we rolled out our new financial system in early July.”

“They’re not denying the validity of anything, they’re willing to pay it. But they simply are not able to pay it because of these accounting issues,” said Sharron.

He is frustrated, but hopeful they’ll find a fix soon, so his business can stay afloat.

“I don’t really know who to to go or how to do anything on my side to move this process forward other than to continually contact the university and I know they’ve gotten tired of my doing it,” he said.

At this point, Sharron is hoping to get this resolved without having to turn to a lawsuit but it’s still unclear how long it could take for the accounting error to be resolved.

It’s also worth noting this issue is only impacting vendors – not students.