OCCC scores ‘excellent’ on audit

OCCC landed an almost perfect score in a recent internal audit.

On Monday, March 9, the OCCC Board of Regents voted unanimously to accept the report generated from that audit which turned up positive results in five separate arenas of college functions, according to Dwayne Tate, who represented the auditing firm of Crawford and Associates.

Tate provided an overview of the auditing process and said the focus was first a claims audit, “which is statutorily required to be audited annually.”

Then purchasing processes were audited, followed by the Bursar Office Smartpay System, compliance with updates to the Clery Act and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, and finally, a follow up on the previous year’s findings and recommendations.

“This is an excellent report,” Tate said.

In performing the claims audit (reviewing insurance claims processes, documenting processes and record keeping), Tate said 50 separate claims were tested for 10 criteria each.

“It is rare that there’s not an exception when you’re looking at 50 claims and 10 criteria,” he said, “The college was absolutely perfect for all criteria for all of those 50 claims.”

Tate explained the process of reviewing OCCC’s purchasing procedures as well.

“We conduct interviews and walk-throughs with management and personnel to gain an understanding of and to document the internal controls for the purchasing process,” he said.

“We collected a random sample of 40 purchase orders. We stratified that population based upon those that required just simply management approval, those that required three competitive quotes, those that required competitive bids.

“Twenty percent of the population required bids so 20 percent of our sample were going to be those that required bids so we stratified our sample to mirror the population.

“For the 40 purchase orders selected for testing, we noted no exception,” Tate said.

“Here again, the college was absolutely perfect in compliance with their purchasing policies and procedures and controls.”

Tate said his firm also obtained and reviewed school policies and procedures surrounding the new Higher One Smartpay System used by the Bursar Office in collecting tuition and fees. The system was implemented in December 2014.

It was requested by the college that Crawford and Associates review the controls and evaluate their effectiveness within the Bursar’s office, Tate said.

On Aug. 20, 2011, the FBI, at the request of college administrators, began looking into suspicious charges on the Bursar’s office credit card. Brandi Henson, who was bursar at the time, resigned from her position with the college Sept. 30, 2011, and on Aug. 16, 2012, pled guilty in federal court to charges of wire fraud after embezzling nearly $400,000 from OCCC between 2004 and 2011.

OCCC President Paul Sechrist said in a Pioneer interview at the time, an audit of the Bursar’s office had come back clean. The report from the Hinkle and Co. auditing firm did note, however, that at that time OCCC had no procedure in place to balance the Bursar’s office credit card monthly, and balance reports were not reviewed by anyone outside the Bursar’s office.

Sechrist said in recent years, the college has worked to implement additional safeguards with the Bursar’s office.  He said the Bursar office may or may not be audited each year.

“Regular audits of this office and the transactions are to review compliance with the additional safeguards and to test the system for any possible areas that need further review. Areas to audit each year are based on a risk assessment compiled in conjunction with the audit firm, the administration, and the Board of Regents,” Sechrist said.

Tate said, his firm conducted interviews and walk-throughs with staff to best understand office procedure.

“The Smartpay system has additional levels of security to safeguard the data of the cardholder,” he said.

“The Bursar office has developed a working spreadsheet to track the total amount of each cashier’s daily deposit activity to effectively reconcile back to the Smartpay system total daily reported activity. So there is an effective reconciliation process that has been implemented. And it’s working … .

“We have no recommendations in this area either,” Tate said.

In reference to The Clery Act and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), the firm reviewed OCCC’s annual security report to ensure required elements were reported as required by the updated law implemented in October 2014.

The firm identified some disclosure statements to add to the school’s annual security report.

Business and Finance Vice President John Boyd said the changes are already underway and will be in place before the 2015 report is due. He discussed the nature of the statements to be added.

“There were four different recommendations that the internal auditor offered OCCC,” Boyd said.

“The first one is about written notification to students and employees as it relates to the existing counseling that we have; the mental health counseling, the victim advocacy and legal assistance,” he said. “Our current college policy 1012 already contains this information. We are going to include this same information in the annual security report.”

“The second recommendation was preserving evidence necessary to prove criminal domestic violence,” Boyd said. “That involves sexual assault and stalking, and obtaining a protection order. Section seven of our annual security report deals with this. We will be expanding that section.”

Boyd said another recommendation involved provision of written notification to victims.

“It’s about the options that they have as it relates to assistance, to changing academic environment that they perhaps go through, transportation and working situations,” he said.

“Policy 1012 deals with all of this disclosure information. We are adding that same disclosure information to our annual security report for 2014 and we will update that security report,” he said.

Boyd said the last recommendation was a statement that  hearings be conducted by officials who receive annual training on how to conduct a hearing process that protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability.

He said currently the president’s cabinet handles such hearings.

“We are going to deal with the recommendation made by the internal audit and this is a policy that will be made by the cabinet of OCCC but one of two things needs to occur,” Boyd said.

“We either need to put a committee together for a hearing process, a committee of trained individuals, or we need to insure that the cabinet, who are listening to these processes are trained and under appropriate instruction under Title 9.”

Boyd assured the board this would be discussed, a decision would be reached promptly and a change would be implemented. He said all of the auditor’s recommendations had been accepted and applied where necessary.

“By doing that, you’ll have done you’ll have to do next year which is follow up on the prior years internal audit findings and recommendations,” said Tate.

“As a matter of fact, I actually looked at an amendment of our security report this morning and we’ve already taken measures to incorporate all these recommendations into our report,” he said.

Tate said he compliments the school for implementing everything they had set out to do.

“I think you ought to be proud of the college’s leadership and management team, and Dr. (Paul) Sechrist, Dr. (Jerry) Steward and Dr. Boyd for their efforts in establishing the culture and maintaining the culture at the institution for which you should be very proud,” hee said.

Regent Christie Burgin said before voting to accept the report, “This report is thorough, positive and reflects a high level of compliance of the college’s financial policies, and that of the state of Oklahoma.

“I would like to commend the administration and the college financial staff for their commitment to OCCC,” Burgin said.

“Their preparation, I know, took long hours and cooperation with Crawford and Associates, and I know they appreciate that as well.”

There was no hesitation or discussion to pass the vote.

Regent Helen Camey said she was “thrilled with the results. Thanks to everyone.”

To contact Jorge Krzyzaniak, email seniorwriter@occc.edu

Leave comment