For the sixth year in a row, state auditors found no material violations at Washington State University. That appears to be a record for state higher education.

“To my knowledge, there has been no other higher education institution that has had no audit finding for four or more years,” said Barry Johnston, director of WSU’s Office of Business Services/Controller.

A “finding” is when there has been a material violation of law, rule or regulation, and a loss of public funds, he said.

The annual audits are conducted by the State Auditor’s Office personnel to determine if institutions complied with state laws and regulations and with their own internal policies and procedures. Also checked are internal controls that safeguard university assets, check the accuracy and reliability of accounting data, promote operational efficiency and encourage adherence to policies.

Internal controls at the college, unit or department level were largely responsible for the last findings WSU incurred — in 1996-1998 — according to the 2004 report from the State Auditor’s Office. “Over the years, the university has developed training classes, set up task forces and improved its desire and commitment to establish and maintain strong financial and compliance systems with sufficient internal controls,” the auditors said in their report.

The Business Affairs and Business Services/Controllers staff have facilitated education and training to assist all departments and employees, Johnston said. “We assist with safeguarding the assets of the university, while being good stewards of public funds and public trust. We protect $1.7 billion worth of assets while monitoring and managing $640 million of revenue and expenditures.”

The effort is paying off, according to the auditors, who reported: “We believe this has increased awareness of the need for sufficient internal controls to reduce the potential for fraud and abuse.”

This increased awareness, improvement and record of exemplary audits is a credit to everyone at the university, Johnston said.“From the president, his executive leadership, the provost, chancellors, deans, chairs, directors, finance officers, accountants, fiscal technicians, secretaries and office assistants, WSU has a culture of compliance,” he said.

To view the 2004 audit report online, see http://www.sao.wa.gov/Reports/AuditReports/AuditReportFiles/ar6427.pdf..