UKIA UK Internal Audit Staff

Internship Programs: A Benefit to Students, Your Unit AND the University

There are many benefits for a department of the University of Kentucky to institute an internship program, from the additional assistance and fresh perspective of the students to the opportunity for your staff to cultivate their leadership and organizational skills. But perhaps more rewarding is seeing the benefits such a program affords the students, such as the ability to put the skills they have been learning in class into action, acquiring valuable experience, and having the opportunity to expand their professional network. Some may even earn school credit, though it isn’t a requirement.

UK Internal Audit (UKIA) has benefitted from its internship program so immensely that this year, it expanded its ten-year-old program to 10 interns, nearly doubling the size of its department during the spring semester. For the first time, the cohort of students was expanded outside of the audit profession to include cybersecurity, communications and risk analysis interns.

“Our division is thrilled to be part of our students’ overall educational experience,” explained Joe Reed, Chief Audit Executive with UKIA. “It is both precious and rewarding. We welcome the opportunity to balance classroom learning with its practical application.”
 

The students ranged from Accounting and Finance majors/double-majors to Business and Economics/Accounting and Information Communication Technology majors. Three earned class credit, one worked unpaid, and two teams of three students each worked with UKIA as a semester-long assignment for their 500-level Internal Audit class. Their assignments were equally varied and involved assisting with the following:
 

  • Pre-planning research and analytics for a compliance audit.
  • Identifying inventory process weaknesses and proposing improvement strategies for an inventory audit.
  • Reviewing planning documents and participating in some interviews for an information security audit.
  • Creating an access database to help UKIA track the access our staff members have to various databases across campus.
  • Interviews and analysis of chief business process challenges in units of varying sizes for a joint project with University Financial Services and Purchasing.
  • Communicating the results of follow-up audits.
  • Categorizing information from various sources to help populate UKIA’s risk database.

“These are actual projects that provide the students invaluable experience while affording us some additional manpower to help us meet our goals,” said Reed. “The program has been a tremendous success for us.”

When asked about their experience, the students were also very complimentary. The student teams all noted how different the actual experience was from any of the case studies that they had worked on in class, and how valuable it was to put their skills to work in a professional setting. Second, the internships opened their eyes to new career opportunities they had not previously considered.

“As a University, we must remain steadfast in our focus on preparing our students for the utmost success in the future, even as we work to overcome operational challenges that accompany tighter budget restrictions, said Reed. “As UKIA’s interns clearly demonstrate, developing an internship program is one way we can successfully accomplish both.”

To develop an internship program for your department, contact the James W. Stuckert Career Center at ukcareercenter@uky.edu or 859-257-2746, or check out other internship job descriptions at https://www.uky.edu/careercenter/handshake.

Joe Reed, Chief Audit Executive (back row, far right) poses with the students who worked with UKIA as part of a class assignment (Back Row, from left) Clay Thornton,John Megles, Christopher Davis, (front row, from left) Dr. Urton Anderson, professor of the 500-level Internal Audit class, students Christina Reiter and Lauren Price and UKIA Business Auditors Sam Woolery, Stacey Wilson-Myers, Brock Simpson.

CONTRACTING AUTHORITY: Follow the Rules to Protect Your Unit AND the University

January 30, 2018  |   Issue 5

A recent newspaper article reported that personnel at a SEC University were ratifying contracts without proper authority. This activity includes implementing and executing contractual obligations for the University. Unbeknownst to these departments, overpayments of $171K occurred.

Recent UKIA audit evaluations have identified similar weaknesses due to inappropriate contracting authority. In several instances, UKIA noted that the proper University officials were not involved in contracting activities. Such procedural gaps have resulted in the following:

• Violating Kentucky Revised Statues leading to fines and penalties
• Redundant services resulting in a waste of resources
• Higher pricing to the University
• Conflicts of interest

The University of Kentucky has stopgaps in place to ensure contracts are ratified appropriately. Unfortunately, when our departmental practices do not strategically align with our policies, opportunities for waste, fraud and abuse increase. In our current environment, which could be considered the ‘new normal,’ inappropriate practices such as these could have a tremendous impact on our ability to continually meet our mission.

The University has delegated the procurement function, including contracting, to the Purchasing Division. Departments requiring contract services should provide Purchasing with the following:

• complete information on the needs
• scopes and time frames
• special qualifications
• estimated costs
• source of funds
• any other information that may be available about requirements

UKIA can help you locate gaps in your processes that leave your unit vulnerable to inappropriate activities. Let us help you improve your operations BEFORE something happens. Call us at 257-3126, or check out UKIA’s services here. OR, if you just need some tools or training to make what you already have in place more efficient and effective, the UK Purchasing Division offers a number of resources here.

PAPERWORK WITH A PURPOSE: Promoting Responsible Purchasing, Halting Pilfery

In the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl, the main character, Jack Sparrow, was asked by a Royal Marine what his purpose was for being in Port Royal, to which Sparrow truthfully responded, “I confess, it is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out.”
In the real world, determining a person’s intention to commit theft/fraud isn’t usually that easy. In fact, when fraud is committed, activities usually go on for a long time (an average of 24 months, according to the Association of Fraud Examiners).
Take for example  a news report about a former Kentucky county official who was indicted on two felony charges alleging that he misappropriated about $25,000 over two years while in office.  The former official used funds from a drug investigation account for other purposes, used a county credit card for personal purchases and filed requests to be reimbursed for expenses that the county had already paid. The personal expenses ranged from food and alcohol to a subscription to a dating website.
According to the report, the accused said while under oath, “Basically, I lost track of things and misappropriated it.”
The news report never states how authorities figured it out, but in UKIA’s experience, it’s usually about documentation, or lack thereof. In fact, when purchase and travel request forms are used consistently and require the business purpose to be stated, the risk of misappropriation of funds occurring is greatly reduced. Although fraud is rare, documentation errors do occur, and both can be costly as a result of inappropriate and inaccurate reimbursements.  Requiring purchase and travel forms to be completed that outline the business purpose for each request discourages such occurrences while also making it easier for faculty and staff to track and separate personal and business expenses.  In turn, these best practices ultimately help to monitor and validate expenses.   
Want to know more about how UKIA can help you locate gaps in your processes that leave an opening for inappropriate activities? Let us help you improve your operations BEFORE something happens. Call us at 257-3126, or check out UKIA’s services here. OR, if you just need some tools or training to make what you already have in place more efficient and effective, the UK Purchasing Division offers a number of resources here.