An internal audit conducted by the Student Government Association has found discrepancies in the funding of organizations and the budget.
One of the more prevalent discrepancies was that of an “official” budget, which was given to the university officials to sign off on, was different than a budget used by the Student Senate and SGA.
“It was discovered that a different budget was being circulated throughout SGA and also that yet another budget was referenced during Senate meetings,” reads the Financial Standings Report: July 1, 2011 – Oct. 19, 2011.
“There are no different/separate budgets. The only official budget is the one that contains the appropriate signatures from the Board of Trustees Chairperson, the University President, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students, Joints Operations Budget Coordinator, the 2010-11 SGA President and the 2010-11 Senate President,” wrote Marvin Green, director of student activities, via email.
The official budget is compiled annually and signed by many university officials, including a member of the Board of Trustees, the university president and the current student senate president.
The audit, aimed at pinpointing how Activities and Service Fees are dispersed, further found that the different budgets had different funding amounts. Certain elements that received A&S fees, like the Student Bar Association account, valued at $30,653, and Rattler Express, valued at $60,000, were not mentioned on the budget circulate within SGA.
Also, the Rattler Express breakdown of how the fees are to be used was missing from the official budget, according to the audit.
“The Financial Standings Report, the document to which you are referring, alleges that there are some inconsistencies between the budget, as far as what was approved by the 40th Student Senate and what they spent this fiscal year.,” said Michael Jefferson, SGA chief of staff.
“So the next step for the Student Government Association is to work with the entities that have the alleged spending issues and really to define, and really to understand what those issues are. To make sure that these are not a result of numbers that are, not necessarily exaggerated, but the money is being dispensed in different phases.”
The audit also found that some organizations were over allocated a grand total of $100,000. This includes the Student Union/Activities being allocated $660,557 but received $680,986, a difference of $20,429.
“Some agencies have a high level of activity in the fall semester that require payments to be made,” said Morris Hawkins, the coordinator of accounting for SGA.
“However, this was the first year we had only a 35 percent release of budget; as a result, we cannot overlook payment/invoices once services are rendered due to the University policies and procedures on vendor payments. Consequently, budgets had to be adjusted accordingly.”
Some students are confused that the SGA had to launch an audit into the A&S Fees.
“When I went to the meeting, they made it seem like they had everything under control and it’s just taking time and they are telling everyone to calm down. So it just makes us question what other things they have going on that we can’t see,” said Onyx Smith, a first-year business administration student from Jacksonville, Fla.
“Next step is to see what we can do better. How we can improve our processes and further still, how we can improve our understanding on how the money is being dispersed,” said Jefferson.
“I have complete faith in our student leadership that they will serve the student body at their best ability,” said Hawkins. “As a business major, I understand the checks and balance method of auditing and I do not object but encourage our student leaders to make each an every individual accountable.”
A&S fees are paid by the student body through tuition costs. Students pay $10.30 per credit hour toward A&S fees.
SGA Comptroller Tyler Calhoun, who performed the internal audit, declined The Famuan’s phone request for comment on the audit.