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 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 09: No 10

This week I had the privilege of speaking at the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers (SACUBO) Fall Workshop about ethics in higher education. This is an important topic, and one I have covered regularly for various groups over the years, but it is always a challenging topic from a presentation standpoint.

As I developed this year's presentation, I was reminded how ethical issues permeate every category in Case in Point. When you look at some of the national scandals within higher education over the past few years, they all involve some level of ethical failure on the part of individuals and organizations. Admittedly, ethical discussions are much easier in the hypothetical conference setting than in the day-to-day pressures that arise and require quick, decisive action.

As a frequent speaker at conferences, I know that behavior is rarely (and likely never) changed via PowerPoint slides. Likewise, sharing the latest research on ethics and ethical decision making does very little to help when it is decision time on ethical issues. I have noticed however, that the power of story may have an occasional impact on behavior and learning.

This year I used a story to promote some self-reflection by those who attended SACUBO. I used the story of an attorney, Rashmi Airan, who ultimately wound up serving time in federal prison due to her ethical failure. The decisions she made, beginning with changing dates on documents for an important client, started off benign, but ethical decisions have a way of leading to places we never imagined. To watch Rashmi Airan's 13-minute Ted Talk click here: ''Against the Slippery Slope.''

While there are many questions we can ponder, the topic of ethical vigilance is important for all of us in higher education. Here are a few of the questions we discussed and reflected:

  1. Are there areas where you are currently taking short cuts or engaging in ethical patterns that would be questionable?
  2. Are you ever tempted to look the other way or stay silent if you see questionable ethical actions?
  3. Have you thought about your core values and ensuring your actions and decisions line up with these values?
  4. Do you have some place you can seek objective ethical counsel when faced with questions?

If you need ethical advice, OACP is here and happy to attempt in helping you navigate your situation. As you review the stories happening across higher education this month we again invite you to consider ways you can proactively manage risks and prevent problems. Every dollar we spend on risk management failure is a dollar not going to our primary mission of teaching, research and outreach. The mission is too important not to give this some thought. 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: October 31, 2016