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SBHE Audit Committee looks for leverage

BISMARCK -- The State Board of Higher Education Audit Committee voted to change a policy allowing it more leverage to get university audits completed.

BISMARCK -- The State Board of Higher Education Audit Committee voted to change a policy allowing it more leverage to get university audits completed.

A law passed during the 2015 Legislative Session made the State Auditor's Office responsible for external audits and left $300,000 for the North Dakota University System to fund internal audit positions.

At a meeting Tuesday, the Audit Committee passed a policy change allowing the committee to charge institutions for the cost of an audit by an external entity should the university fall out of compliance with audit completion.

"Everyone is busy but I'm a firm believer audits and budgets and monetary control among our colleges and universities is paramount to the way they operate and run," committee member Kevin Melicher said.

The committee also approved changes allowing for unplanned audits and give universities the option to share internal audit services regionally, among other things.

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The changes must be approved by the full SBHE.

The committee went into closed session to discuss draft audits and institutional responses, as is allowed by law, at last month's meeting.

NDUS Director of Audit Services Laura Schratt said an internal audit is in progress for Williston State College and her draft report states most of the practices WSC list as fully implemented are not.

WSC Chief Financial Officer Laurie Furuseth said the university disagrees with Schratt's draft report because they have the proper processes in place, just failed to document it.

"We realize the importance of documenting them and are working on it," Furuseth said.

WSC President Ray Nadolny said in an interview he was surprised the issue was brought up since it wasn't on the meeting agenda.

Of 11 original audit findings, Nadolny said five were outstanding -- so the university system initiated an internal audit and its findings spurred the conversation at the committee meeting.

Schratt said she expects a final report to be complete early next week and Nadolny said at that point he feels it will be clear the university is working to fix outstanding problems, such as reconciliation of books.

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"The Audit Committee has been very positive in trying to get us to move forward to clean this up," he said. "Believe me, we want to clean this up."

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