Frequently Asked Questions - Internal Audit

How are areas selected for an audit?

The Office of Internal Audit annually prepares an audit activities plan which is approved by the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance. Input is received from University Administration and management, as well as the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. The audit plan consists of financial, operational, and compliance audits as well as reviews of University operations, programs and procedures. The audit plan generally includes a scheduled audit in each major organizational unit on a regular basis (every two to five years). Some audits are required by governmental agencies or other outside entities and may be performed annually. Other audits are discretionary and involve departmental, operational, program and process reviews.  The audit plan also has provisions for special management requests and investigations of possible irregularities.

Factors that are considered in selecting units to be audited include:

  • Assessment of various forms of risk

  • The size, complexity, and nature of the operation

  • Results of the last audit of the area and length of time since the last audit

  • Major changes in operational policies, procedures, operations, programs, systems or funding

  • Regulatory environment and public scrutiny

  • Management referrals

Why us? Why now?

The Office of Internal Audit does not target individuals or departments for audit. Areas are selected for internal audit based upon an assessment of risk. Risk can take various forms such as loss of assets, loss of receipts, inappropriate payment of expenses, failure to properly record transactions accurately, errors or omissions (either accidental or intentional), or failure to follow established policies and procedures. Those areas with a high degree of expected risk are subject to more frequent audit.

Some departments or processes, by the risk they present, will always get more audit attention, while others because of regulatory or legislative action will be audited periodically. If the University experiences problems in a given department or process, it may prompt additional audits until we are convinced no serious exposure exists. The Office of Internal Audit prepares an internal audit activity plan on an annual basis.

Can an audit be requested?

An internal audit can be very beneficial, especially if there has been a change in either the management of the area or in key personnel.  An audit can provide an assessment of the current internal controls and assist in the modification of procedures.  It will also provide an independent appraisal of the effectiveness and efficiency of an area's activities.

An audit can be requested by directly contacting the Office of Internal Audit or submitting your request through the Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance.  The Office of Internal Audit is also available for consultation without having to perform an official audit.

What is the authority of the Office of Internal Audit?

The Office of Internal Audit is authorized by the Chancellor to have unrestricted access to all UW-La Crosse records, property, and personnel.  The internal auditor makes every effort to ensure that security of assets and privacy of records are not compromised and services are not unnecessarily disrupted.

The Office of Internal Audit reports to the Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance.  The internal auditor has no direct responsibility for any day-to-day University activities or operations.  The Internal Audit Charter defines the policy, purpose, authority, and responsibilities of the Office of Internal Audit.

What type of documentation does the auditor need?

The auditor will need documentation to verify any type of transaction made.  Examples of this documentation are receipt books, register tapes, purchase requisitions, receipts from vendors, software licenses, deposit slips, inventory records, payroll time sheets, approval forms, etc. 

Auditors often request documentation about departmental procedures and reporting structures.  Examples of this type of documentation include policy and procedure manuals, flow charts, meeting minutes, organizational charts, etc.

How long does it take to perform an audit?

Audits can take from a few days to several weeks depending on the complexity of the operation and the condition of the records.  During the entrance conference, the estimated length of the audit will be discussed.  As the audit staff becomes more familiar with the operation and the records, it becomes easier to estimate the length of time an audit will take.  Throughout the audit, the staff will keep the auditee informed about the progress of the audit.

How often must money be deposited?

Weekly deposits are required by Wisconsin State Statutes.  Receipts totaling more than $1,000.00 should be deposited daily.

All departments should complete the standardized deposit slip when depositing cash with the Cashier’s Office.  This form is located on the Cashier’s Office website.  Account name, account number, description, and amount should be completed.  Questions on an account name and code should be addressed to the Business Services Office and coding information will be provided.  The period covered by the deposit should be entered on the deposit slip.

The Business Services Office is the only department authorized to have a bank account.  All other departments are prohibited from opening any bank account to deposit state funds.  All receipts collected by any department in the performance of assigned duties are considered state funds and must be deposited through the Cashier’s Office.

Why should I reconcile my account?

It is important to reconcile in order to verify that revenue deposited has been properly credited to your account.  It is possible for deposits to get posted for the wrong amount, to the wrong account, or to not get posted at all.  The amount listed on the accounting records is the amount deposited to the account regardless of what may be written on a deposit slip.

It is important to reconcile to verify that all expenditures are properly charged to your account.  It is possible for expenditures to be charged for the wrong amount, to the wrong account, or to not get charged at all. 

It is also important that accounts be reconciled in a timely manner.

How long must I keep receipts and documentation?

Filled receipt books, or any other form of receipts, must be kept for a minimum of seven years.  They can be kept in the department or given to the Business Services Office to store.  The seven year requirement includes purchase documentation, sales documentation, and other paperwork necessary to fully understand the receipt of revenue or the expenditure of University resources. Refer to UW-La Crosse Records Retention guidelines.

Why should there be segregation of duties?

Separation of duties is a measure of good accountability and internal control.  This will ensure that one individual cannot perpetuate and conceal errors and irregularities in the normal course of duties.  Segregation of duties is not always possible due to limited staff.  Strong internal controls require the segregation of responsibilities for authorizing transactions, physical custody of assets and the related record keeping.  For example, one individual could order, receive, approve for payment and verify charges to the monthly accounting report.  One individual should not have the ability to receive payments through the mail, prepare the deposits, reconcile the bank statements, and post payments to the receivable system.