This Is Auburn Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy
Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Our Mission

The mission of the Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy is to assist Auburn University, Auburn University at Montgomery, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (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

This month our review of stories from 2020 focuses on the Fraud/Ethics category. Like all categories last year, the pandemic brought slight twists and turns to risks that we may not have ever anticipated. Even with these turns, it is important to remember that the number one factor that contributes to fraud being able to occur is the lack of internal controls, regardless of the mode of operation. We periodically write about controls and will return to this topic in a later month due to its importance.

When we dive into the types of stories in this category, we see the following breakdown in order of frequency:

  1. Wire Fraud
  2. Theft (generally property stolen from either employees or external parties)
  3. Embezzlement (from employees)
  4. Academic Fraud
  5. Tie – Foreign Conflicts of Interest & Research Misconduct

In a related note, in recent conversations with numerous peers across USA, the vast majority reported substantial increases in the number of reports that came in on anonymous reporting hotlines during the pandemic. I've yet to see any research as to why this was or if it was true for other industries, but for whatever reasons, the reports increased at many institutions. I would make the argument that employees reporting suspected ethical lapses or fraud is a positive thing since all employees play a role in protecting institutional resources and reputations.

We again invite you to review the stories across higher education from the prior month with a view toward proactively managing them and avoiding the headlines. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

Read this month's issue of Case In Point

Case In Point Archives

Anonymous Reporting Hotline

The 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: February 02, 2021