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Audits record issues for UL and SLCC

Posted at 12:34 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 17:31:05-04

Accountants with the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office found issues at UL and SLCC during their annual examination of the institutions' books.

Every year, the office examines the books at all state schools as part of each school's audit, the state's audit and to evaluate the school's accountability over public funds.

The reports released Wednesday cover the fiscal year that began on July 1 2019 and ended June 30 2020.

At UL, auditors found issues with administrative system access; Title IV fund returns; federal enrollment reporting and safeguarding student information.

The auditor's office said that, for the second consecutive year, UL Lafayette failed to terminate access to the electronic administrative system in a timely manner for employees who no longer worked for the university.

This is the university's response:
We concur with the finding. This situation occurred because, under our prior business process, employee access was terminated only when an individual completely separated from the University. This process allowed employees whose jobs had changed or terminated to retain access associated with their prior position. This included employees who had intermittent breaks in service, such as between semesters for student workers and adjunct faculty. Out of the 68 exceptions cited, 65 were in this category. Most temporary employees, 57 on this list, are not granted Banner Finance access. For those that are, there are mitigating controls in place over transactions that reduce the risk that errors and fraud may cause the financial report to be materially misstated. Corrective Action While we believe there was little risk from our practice, we have modified our workflows as follows:
• Removal of Banner access upon termination of the position supporting the specific access.
• All systems access, including Banner access is terminated when an individual no longer has an active job record on NBAJOBS.
• An automated report is generated and reviewed daily by IT Security to determine whose access is to be terminated.

In addition, auditors found the university did not have adequate controls in place to ensure returns of Title IV funds were accurately calculated and sent to the U.S. Department of Education. The university also did not report changes in enrollment status to the National Student Loan Data System for students who received Student Financial Aid funds and unofficially withdrew from the university or had a change in enrollment status because they registered for classes but never attended.

The University also concurred with this finding, and said that the Financial Aid and Registrar's Office worked together to develop a management plan to prevent recurrence, which includes a change in the date used by the registrar and expanded access to data for Financial Aid.

Auditors found as well that the university did not have a formal documented risk assessment or related safeguards to address the minimum requirements of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act standards for safeguarding student information.

The University also concurred with this finding, and said that a formal risk assessment will be conducted, and an action plan will be drawn up and implemented to address the findings. The University's CIO estimates the action plan's implementation should be complete by the end of the year.

A prior-year finding related to failure to report misappropriations was resolved.

To read the entire audit, click here.

At SLCC, auditors found problems with employee bonuses and CARES payments to students.

The auditor's office said that, for the second consecutive year, auditors found SLCC may have violated state law when it granted employees one-time payments of 2 percent of each employee’s gross salary.

SLCC did not concur with this finding; officials say they used an Attorney General opinion as guidance to determine the best course of action. Officials say they will take the auditor's advice to seek another AG opinion on the subject.

In addition, SLCC incorrectly used federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds totaling $41,666 to pay salaries and benefits to its executive team.

SLCC did not concur with this finding, the report indicates. SLCC "never utilized federal funds to pay salaries or benefits."

SLCC also incorrectly disbursed CARES Act funds totaling $31,184 to 40 students who had officially withdrawn from school before March 13, 2020.

SLCC disputed the wording of this finding, and gave a timeline of federal guidance regarding the withdrawal date. SLCC officials say that, since only 1.1 percent of disbursements were involved, this should have been an audit note, not a finding.

To read the entire audit, click here.