April 5, 2012
To Faculty and Staff:
I am writing regarding a matter that is important to every one of us – the integrity and reputation of our University.
Over the last several years, the University has been the victim of financial fraud perpetrated by its employees. Incidents involved people who had been given too much trust and too little oversight: an administrator who purchased and inappropriately sold unneeded supplies without independent review of account activity; a pharmacy technician with access to expensive drugs that were not under inventory control; a business officer who diverted funds from accounts that he or she oversaw.
Fraud is an avoidable waste of University resources. It creates a distraction from important work and negatively impacts employee morale and the University’s reputation. Together, we must work to strengthen internal controls and create an environment where integrity and ethical behavior are relentlessly enforced, making it unwelcome for those who may be tempted to commit fraud.
There are things each of us can do to maintain ethical standards and financial controls.
Tell your supervisor or make an anonymous report to the ‘Cane Watch hotline (www.canewatch.ethicspoint.com) regarding any concerns about financial improprieties or irregularities. You don’t need to be certain there’s a problem and may choose to remain anonymous. You can also report concerns to Internal Audit (8-2605) or the Controller (8-6429).
When dealing with financial controls – it is better to be safe than sorry. It’s okay to point out inappropriate transactions that could occur and not be detected on a timely basis (i.e., a weakness in internal controls). If something doesn’t look right, it’s worth discussing with your supervisor, Internal Audit, or the Controller.
Closely review activity in accounts for which you are responsible. If you are unsure how best to do that, the Controller’s office can help. If you have delegated the authority for an account to another individual, follow up to guarantee the funds are being expended in accordance with your expectations. While it is possible to delegate authority for certain financial functions, the responsibility remains to ensure those functions are carried out appropriately.
When reviewing or approving transactions, understand not just the form of the transaction, but also the substance. Is the transaction allowable and appropriate to the funding source? Is it reasonable? Is it for legitimate purposes in furtherance of the University’s mission?
When fraud or theft occurs, the University’s policy is to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, even in those instances where full repayment is provided. We press the University’s case in both criminal and civil courts and encourage sentences that include prison time. Our primary objective is to stop inappropriate behavior in the future. You may not hear much about University efforts involving the criminal justice system, but rest assured those efforts are persistent and aggressive.
Most of our employees consistently operate at the highest standards of ethical behavior. Our goal is to increase University-wide vigilance so that it is unacceptable to look the other way, or to accept instructions from a supervisor that violate our policies. We must all remain vigilant. If you have concerns or if you have seen behavior or transactions that just don’t seem right, bring them forward immediately.
Please feel free to contact me directly at any time at 8-6100 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your dedication to the University of Miami.
Senior Vice President for Business and Finance
& Chief Financial Officer