We continue our look back at the events that transpired in higher education during 2014 as linked here in Case in Point. This month we focus on the Fraud & Ethics category. As an institution, ensuring we carry out our fiduciary responsibility for overseeing the funds entrusted to us has never been more important. When we look at this category from last year we see the following breakdown of stories linked:
Occupational fraud is the most frequent topic in this category as it has been for each year in our publication. Occupational Fraud refers to situations where an employee commits fraud against their employer. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners issues a biennial report on occupational fraud where they examine trends on this topic. In their 2014 report, education remains the 5th most frequent industry for occupational fraud to occur as it has been since 2010. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners report noted that within the industry of education as a whole, the top three types of occupational fraud were: 1. Corruption Schemes, 2. Billing Fraud, and 3. Expense Reimbursement Fraud.
Corruption Schemes would involve items such as conflicts of interest where an employee took advantage of a particular situation for personal gain. It frequently involves items such as competitive bids and related issues. It is important to note that virtually every corruption scheme begins with a conflict of interest. However, merely having a conflict of interest does not mean an employee has done anything wrong, it simply means there are competing personal and institutional interests. Conflicts can be managed to protect the employee and institution and it is more important than ever that we are proactive in this area.
Academic Fraud, in our classification, consisted of a variety of issues from professors and employees falsifying academic credentials, to classroom cheating, to courses that did not appear to meet an institution's academic requirements. This is certainly a category that can have a substantial impact on reputational risk.
Use of Funds is another important topic and one that appears to be growing in terms of impact. With changes in technology, particularly social media, the scrutiny we operate under has never been greater. Just because some use of funds is technically legal, it does not mean that it is necessarily advisable in today's environment. Thinking proactively in terms of fiduciary responsibility can help avoid problems in how we use the funds entrusted to us.
False Reporting is another category that seems to be growing in importance. The data and reporting we provide to outside organizations, agencies, and the public should be accurate and truly reflective of reality. Even knowing who is officially making such representation can be difficult in our decentralized organization; however, it is something that deserves attention as several schools learned during the past year.
We again invite you to review the stories across higher education and consider whether you have any specific risks that deserve proactive attention within your sphere of influence.
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Last Updated: April 30, 2015