Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Our Mission

The mission of the Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy is to assist the University in fulfilling its vision of being a preeminent comprehensive land-grant university. Our office provides services in three distinct yet related disciplines - audit, compliance, and privacy - in support of Auburn University's three-pronged mission of teaching, research, and service.

The Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy functions in partnership with University leadership to:

  • improve the internal control system and culture;
  • improve and enhance the management of operational, financial, compliance, strategic and reputational risks;
  • enhance governance processes;
  • ensure strong stewardship and management accountability at all levels of the University.

Case In Point: Lessons for the proactive manager
Volume 10: No 11

''Culture trumps strategy every time.'' You've probably heard this quote or some variation thereof, which has often been attributed to famed management consultant Peter Drucker. The truth in this quote is that organizational culture impacts everything from compliance with policies, to how risks are managed, to how decisions are made, to how public relations are handled (or mishandled), and the list goes on.

Organizational culture is a topic that fascinates me and one I've written about several times in Case in Point. This topic came to mind recently as I read stories from higher education that have sparked major discussions and reactions nationwide. My goal is not to cast stones at particular institutions, but rather to encourage thought and discussion about how we can each work on improving our own institutional culture.

At one institution recently, the investigation into tragic events that occurred there resulted in a report that contained this statement: ''problems festered because people feared speaking out.'' We saw another story where a leader was charged with lying to investigators about what they knew of heinous acts that occurred at their institution. If you ever happen to face investigators, you should remember that they usually already know the answers to any questions they ask--but I digress. Both these stories appear to implicate the organizations' ethical cultures.

We work in a noble industry dedicated to changing lives through education, research, and outreach, yet all too often, actions are taken and decisions are made that fall short of nobility. I wish I had some profound advice that would automatically ensure ethical culture exists at your institution, but I don't. I do, however, have three simple things that you can do as an individual to impact your institutional culture in a positive way:

  1. Commit to doing the right thing every time--before you face a dilemma. If and when an issue arises that includes pressure from powerful stakeholders, you will be better equipped to handle the situation. It doesn't mean it will be easy, but it does mean you will be a little better prepared to make wise decisions.
  2. Seek wise counsel when faced with an ethical dilemma. The black and white things are easy, but often there are situations where the ''right thing'' is less obvious. In those cases, it's good to get advice from someone you trust who is outside the emotions of the situation.
  3. Use whatever influence you have in your role to encourage others in ethical behavior. This includes fostering an atmosphere where people can speak openly and honestly about concerns and issues they see.

Hopefully this discussion will generate some thought on the important topic of ethics and culture. We invite you to review the events across higher education from the past month with a view toward proactively managing risk within your sphere of influence. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

(Read more of Case In Point)

Anonymous Reporting Hotline

Auburn University uses the EthicsPoint anonymous Reporting System to enhance communication and empower individuals to promote safety, security, and ethical behavior. Use this anonymous, confidential system to report situations, events or actions by individuals or groups that you believe unethical or otherwise inappropriate. Frivolous or unfounded reports do not help foster a positive workplace. This hotline service does not replace our existing reporting methods for reporting fraud, waste, abuse or other potentially illegal activities. The University continues to encourage stakeholders to report concerns or suspected violations to their supervisor or other campus entities as appropriate. If you are uncertain if a situation violates University policy, is illegal or constitutes harassment or discrimination, you may use EthicsPoint to obtain clarification. We would much rather have you ask questions than let potential problems go unchecked. However, EthicsPoint should not be used for immediate threats to life or property. If the situation presents an immediate threat to life or property call emergency -- 911

Last Updated: June 27, 2018