Audit shows discrepancies

An operational audit for FAMU last summer found information suggesting inefficient and potentially illegal activities in several departments.

Officials in the current administration insist they have started changes to alleviate the problems.

The audit, performed by the Florida Auditor General’s office, noted outstanding checks, the lack of documented faculty activity and discrepancies in financial aid awards.

Merlene Johnson, the assistant audit services /investigations administration said the school conducted its own assessment after the release by the auditor general’s office. Johnson also said that they are making solutions for the problems.

In their report, auditors mentioned six transactions without a matching financial aid payout and corresponding entry in the award file of the financial aid department.

Sanders said most of the problems in the state’s audit stemmed from flaws in the current system. He said lack of a history of transactions, especially those done in the financial aid department, lead to the discrepancies.

“The records don’t show a history (of transactions),” Sanders said. “When the financial aid department makes a payment, the payment overrides previous disbursements.”

The audit also alleges that the university did not accurately track faculty labor, which includes time sheets. In the audit, it says that the university uses two activity reports – one from the Office of Academic Affairs to maintain an account for state funding and the other for the Division of Sponsored Research that tracks the portion of the faculty salaries provided by contracts and grants.

Sanders said the two reports have combined to add clarity and avoid the long paper trail.

“We consolidated the report to make it more consistent and accurate,” he said.

The auditors also found errors in payments to the university’s vendors. The report specifically mentioned one vendor invoice dated April 24, 2001, that wasn’t paid until Oct. 4, 2001. FAMU received the goods on May 1.

Sanders said things that looked like late payments involved incomplete vendor invoices. FAMU only makes payments after receiving accurate statements from vendors.

“Vendors may send an invoice and they may send an incomplete invoice where it can’t be solved until the vendor corrects the info,” he said. “But the clock starts when you receive goods or services on the invoice.”

Sanders said the audit came at a crucial time for awareness of problems with existing systems.

“It raised the consciousness to a level of priority because now they have to address it.”