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Internal audit still in limbo at universities

DICKINSON, N.D.-It's still unclear how internal audits will be handled at the universities and colleges in North Dakota after the Legislature cut that funding. New state law mandates the State Auditor's Office is responsible for external audits, ...

DICKINSON, N.D.-It's still unclear how internal audits will be handled at the universities and colleges in North Dakota after the Legislature cut that funding.

New state law mandates the State Auditor's Office is responsible for external audits, while $300,000 was left to the North Dakota University System to fund internal audit positions.

At an Audit Committee meeting Wednesday, Chief of Staff and Vice Chancellor for IT and Institutional Research Lisa Feldner said $96,000 of that money will have been spent by the end of October.

University of North Dakota Vice President for Finance and Operations Alice Brekke said it's her understanding external auditors can't perform internal audits as well, leaving campuses without that function once the money runs out.

Committee members were confused as to what options were available and whether they would have to hire an outside firm or pay one internal auditor to look at all of the 11 schools overseen by the state Board of Higher Education, so the discussion was tabled.

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"I think it would be important for there to be comprehensive information put together for you so as you're considering the equation you can see the whole progression of what has occurred here," Brekke said.

Internal Auditor Eric Miller at North Dakota State University and Director of Internal Audit and Ethics Officer Tim Rerick at UND said that since the start of the fiscal year, they've done routine and fraud audits, the results of which are then forwarded to the Audit Committee.

Committee member Greg Stemen said his research found individual schools in South Dakota pay for internal auditors on campus, and Miller said NDSU had offered to do the same if necessary.

"We certainly can't go without internal auditors at colleges and universities with all the money they handle," committee member Kevin Melicher said.

Related Topics: DICKINSONEDUCATION
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