For the 12th consecutive year, the annual audit of WSU’s finances by the state auditor’s office has produced no material audit issues or management findings at the university.
That is the longest such record among the state’s public universities.
Roger Patterson, who became vice president of business and finance for WSU last summer, said the continuing series of positive audits is a tribute to good work being done throughout the university.
“A university is different from a corporate setting,” Patterson said. “At a university, it is a very decentralized environment.”
Barry Johnston, assistant vice president for business and finance, said that with thousands of employees at 73 locations around the state, the university depends on finance officers across the system to adhere closely to the university’s business practices spelled out in the Business Policies and Procedures Manual.
He said the auditors look at the university’s business practices and transactions and also verify that financial statements accurately and fairly present the university’s financial picture.
Johnston said all records of the university’s business transactions are made available to the state auditors before they arrive.
Patterson said the auditors examine a statistically significant random sample of those transactions and also focus on specific areas that might raise concerns. The state auditors have access to all reports done by the university’s internal auditor’s office in the course of the year, which also can provide indications of specific areas worth re-examining.
Johnston said any large institution must be watchful about maintaining an appropriate division of duties and responsibilities to prevent fraud and embezzlement.
Other areas of potential problems for a university include the maintenance of accurate employee records and having proper cash management procedures in place.
Johnston said that, despite the ongoing series of reductions in the state’s allocation to WSU over the past three years, the university has maintained its financial position in part by moving quickly to freeze expense areas such as hiring and travel and through course reductions identified in the Academic Affairs Prioritization Process.
The university’s 2010 financial report can be viewed online at http://www.wsu.edu/genacct/pdffiles/2010_FinRpt.pdf.