Audits sweep through university

Seven university departments are undergoing operational, compliance and financial related audits by the Office of the Inspector General to ensure quality performance and the appropriate use of funds.

The audits, which are performed annually, are an on going process and focus on the previous and current fiscal years. The audits address internal controls.

“We’re auditing to ensure that the departments are in compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, the university board of trustees and policies and procedures,” said Merlene Johnson, assistant audit service and investigations administrator.

When a department is found to be adversely operating or performing below standard procedure, immediate action is taken.

“In compliance audits, we are determining whether the unit is complying with provisions following guidelines, rules and those kinds of things,” said O’Leary L. Sanders, inspector general. “If not, you have to make recommendations that they comply.

“Are they following procedures, rules and policies?”

Sanders said financial audits look specifically at how the departments record transactions and how they keep records. Operational audits, which are also known as performance audits, check how the departments are using resources and if they use resources effectively and efficiently.

Alecia Burnette, 21, a senior political science student from Pensacola wanted to know what happens with the money that is awarded to the university.

“It’s something that needs to be done because students have issues with the money that the school receives, but we don’t see the benefits,” she said.

“Financial aid needs to be audited, student accounts, and housing needs to be audited,” Burnette said.

Though students may want to see specific departments investigated, there are guidelines that the Office of Inspector General must follow when performing audits.

“If it’s not a part of our work plan or a mandate from the president, we can’t do it,” Johnson said.

“However, under certain circumstances, an unplanned audit will be performed if suspicious activity is occurring.

“If it comes in as an investigation of fraud, then we will have to investigate it.”

Of the various departments under investigation, some are notified of the investigation, while others are not. The departments are not always notified to prevent the departments from changing internal information that was previously recorded.

Lonnie Barnes, 19, a sophomore criminal justice student from Washington, said the auditors are right for not always alerting the departments.

“If you tell someone they’re being audited, they’re going to try to make things seem right and then the audit would be pointless,” Barnes said.

The Office of Inspector General cannot release the names of the departments currently under investigation but after the audits have been completed, the information becomes public record.

Sanders said the Office of Inspector General and the audits that are performed positively affect the university as a whole.

“If I were the manager of a department, I would welcome someone to come in and make sure we are performing proficiently,” he said. “Once managers understand the importance of having us come in to help, they will realize that it helps the university and everyone benefit. It doesn’t cost anything.”

Marion Rogers, a 22-year-old sophomore political science student from Miami, said the Office of Inspector General should maintain its confidential policy.

“That information should be kept between the auditor and the department being audited,” he said. “I prefer they find that funds are not misappropriated and that they are being used the way they are supposed to be.”

Danielle Lewis can be reached at