COO says audit has strengthened financial controls

University of Louisville Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees

By Kyeland Jackson —

Chief  Operating Officer Harlan Sands told a trustees committee the university is making progress in strengthening internal controls to limit theft and misuse of funds. The board of trustees audit committee also is looking at keeping health information more secure.

“There’s substantial improvement,” Sands said He was appointed chief financial officer  in response to audit recommendations filed July 2014. Nicknamed the Strothman report, the audit revealed systematic mishandling of money and scholarship funds by U of L employees. One estimate reported $7.6 million in stolen or mishandled funds from various departments between 2008 and 2013.

While he emphasized the audits have not been overly aggressive, Sands assured the board of his department’s dedication. “We we don’t stop at one border because we’re responsible at ‘x’…and it only goes to ‘y’….we tackle that together,” Sands said.

The board’s audit committee makes sure departments are complying with rules, both financial and policy-based. Dave Barker, the associate vice president for Audit Services and Institutional Compliance, reported on the audit results.

Barker recommended changes to secure medical and personal information. Those changes involved issues with handling finances, reviewing management and securing computers for the school of medicine. He recommended storing sensitive information offsite on more secure servers. The audit found faculty social security numbers and credit card information being held on unsecured servers.

Barker also discussed reports from the compliance hotline, tasked to record anonymous reports of conflict of interest and other matters. The compliance oversight council responds to those complaints, made up of department representatives. When asked why there was no staff representation on the committee, Barker said “There’s no particular reason at all.”


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