Olds College revamps financial controls after auditor’s report

The financial operations at Olds College have been revamped and are running smoothly now, says the school’s chief financial officer, after an auditor general’s report identified Olds College to be lacking basic financial controls.

The financial operations at Olds College have been revamped and are running smoothly now, says the school’s chief financial officer, after an auditor general’s report identified Olds College to be lacking basic financial controls.

“There are some struggles when you are a smaller institution with a small staff,” said Stewart MacNabb for Olds College. “But we are now fully confident in our financial operations.”

Auditor general Merwan Saher released a report on Monday stating Olds College had problems creating accurate and quality financial statements in a timely manner. An earlier report by the auditor general, from April 2011, found similar problems.

“We have taken their recommendations seriously and prepared plans,” said MacNabb.

The college was notified of the audit results in October and has since reorganized its management structure.

For example, MacNabb’s role as chief financial officer didn’t previously exist. It was the vice-president who oversaw financial duties, among others.

Now governance is more streamed for efficiency, said MacNabb. They’ve also implemented more timely processing for year-end financial reporting, he said.

In February, the college provided an update on its progress with the audit committee.

Lack of financial controls “often result in significant inefficiencies, can impair the quality of information that management and the board use in decision making and increase the risk of fraud not being detected,” said Saher in a press release.

Along with Olds College, Monday’s report identified Northern Lakes College, Grant MacEwan University, Alberta College of Art and Design and NorQuest College as schools with internal accounting problems.

These institutions spend about $4.5 billion annually on the education of Albertans, said Saher.

Several errors were found in the records at Olds College, such as a $600,000 receivable balance recorded as a liability rather than an asset and donation revenues of $134,000 recorded in the 2011 fiscal year that were actually related to 2010.

The report recommended that Olds College improve its processes and controls over year-end financial reporting and segregate privileged systems access from data entry responsibilities. Some unqualified college staff had passwords for privileged systems access.

Effective controls in this area are needed for accountability as well as to prevent unauthorized users from making changes, stated the report.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

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