UI audit finds testing center problems

UI audit finds testing center problems

Weak internal controls at the University of Illinois Testing Center have caused the university to lose about $90,000 over three years, according to the state auditor general.

Auditor General William G. Holland on Thursday released details about what auditors called "inadequate reconciliations" and "significant internal control" weaknesses at the testing center.

On March 2, Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz charged former UI employee Anjanette Jones with felony theft in connection with the $90,000 missing from the testing center. Jones was issued a summons to appear in court March 21.

UI employees at the testing center on the Urbana campus administer exams such as the ACT and GRE. When tests are handled for third parties, the UI receives money from the third party based on the number of tests given, according to the auditor's statement.

During fiscal 2006, all the exams given at the center were conducted for third parties.

After the UI hired a new supervisor of the testing center, that person discovered a drop in revenue and amounts reported to the third party as due were not the same as the fees due to the UI for the number of tests given. The supervisor contacted the third party, Education Testing Service, for an explanation.

"And that's when it became apparent this employee was reporting accurate numbers to ETS and inaccurate ones to her supervisor," said UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

The audit said the former employee allegedly did not reconcile revenues and altered paperwork.

"No controls were in place to ensure the revenues due the university reconciled to the reports from third parties. This was a significant internal control weakness," the auditors wrote.

"It was possible for one person to handle things without anyone checking," Kaler added.

The university has written revenue reconciliation procedures now in place and is pursuing restitution from the former employee through legal means, Kaler said.

"There's now a review and approval of all requests for payments sent to a third party, adding a layer of review," Kaler said about changes that have occurred at the testing center since the theft was discovered.

Other audit findings

The UI compliance audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, contains several findings on how the university is complying – or not – with various laws and regulations.

In the recent compliance audit, auditors also pointed out that the UI still needs to reimburse the Department of Health and Human Services about $11,000 after two former university employees reportedly posed as participants in a research project in order to receive money.

During an internal investigation, UI officials found two employees at the Chicago campus created false documents in order to create fictitious people who would then pose as paid participants in a human research project. The employees would then receive money to participate in the federal study.

Investigators found the employees also claimed mileage for travel not associated with the research project. And one of the employees misused the P-Card, a credit card for UI expenses, by charging personal expenses to the account.

From November 2004 to September 2005, the two employees received or inappropriately charged a total of $13,124, of which $11,099 was from federal grants via the National Institutes of Health. The employees no longer work for the university. Both were arrested in 2006; one has been convicted of felony theft and ordered to pay the UI $12,134.

The auditor also drew attention to the UI's practice of not requiring all of its employees to fill out time sheets as required by the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. This issue has been raised by the auditors in previous years. The university stated it is reviewing its personnel policies.

Auditors also recommended the university review how it handles its P-card system. Auditors found some problems in reviewing about 60 different P-card transactions. Some of those problems included insufficient supporting documentation for purchases, unallowable expenses and how some purchases were automatically reconciled and approved by the system instead of being approved by a UI employee.

Auditors also cited the UI for not filing contracts and real estate leases on a timely basis with the state comptroller.

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):Education

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