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 we are returning to normal programming, which for us is our review of the events from 2019 in the ''Fraud & Ethics'' category. We noted a wide variety of fraud and ethical issues, perhaps more diverse in the ways these issues occurred than in any prior year.

Here are the top five most frequent types of stories in this category:

  1. Occupational Fraud -- an employee defrauds the institution in some way.
  2. Research/Grant Fraud -- either falsifying research work or fraudulently billing the sponsor.
  3. Theft of Property -- typically someone external to the institution taking an asset.
  4. Admissions Fraud -- this category reached the top five largely due to the Varsity Blues Scandal that hit many institutions. To date, over 50 people have been charged in this scandal.
  5. Improper Spending -- these cases were not considered fraud per se, but underwent substantial scrutiny due to their appearance and effect on the institution’s reputation.

Many people are surprised to learn that education as an industry is a frequent victim of fraud. We have been in the top 10 regarding frequency of fraud for several years according to research done by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. The most common type of fraud we see in education is occupational fraud, which simply means an employee steals or misappropriates from their employer. In 2019, occupational fraud accounted for 36% of the stories we linked in this category. For comparison, the next closest was Research/Grant Fraud, which accounted for 16% of the stories linked.

The best way to prevent occupational fraud is by having good internal controls. In my view the two most important components of internal control are: (1) ensuring one person does not have complete control of a process, and (2) management adequately fulfilling their oversight role. Too often, the lack of simple oversight allows occupational fraud to occur. If you manage money, people, contracts, accounts, or just about anything else, paying attention to what is going on is part of the oversight deal. Certainly, there is more to internal controls than these two items listed, but in my view, these are the two most frequent components that allow fraud to be perpetuated against an organization.

We again invite you to review the events of the past month with a view toward proactive risk management. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

Read this month's issue of Case In Point

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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: January 24, 2020