Two new audits out on Louisiana colleges — one on LSU and another on Grambling State University — raise concerns about oversight and spending on campuses. At Grambling State University, the Louisiana legislative auditor found thefts totaling more than $130,000, and LSU’s separate audit found 10 instances of falsified payroll records, among other concerns.
The audits ran from July 1, 2013, to June 30.
Both LSU and Grambling’s leaders responded to their respective audits and pointed to those when asked for comment this week.
Grambling State interim President Cynthia Warrick said she agreed with the audit’s findings and actions to correct issues it highlights should be completed by the end of the year.
“We acknowledge that internal controls were weak regarding the university’s vacant properties and after-hours building security,” she wrote.
Actions include hiring a new risk manager who is a retired fire chief and will inspect university buildings regularly; adopting stiffer fines for key replacements and limiting key access; tracking key use for vacant buildings; storing movable property in a secure warehouse; and hiring an experienced law enforcement officer to help with security.
The audit of Grambling State found more than $130,000 in plumbing units, air conditioners and hot water heaters had been illegally taken from the football stadium, campus buildings and vacant housing facilities.
“Good control over property generally includes restricting access and assigning responsibility for individual property items. However, in these thefts, one or more maintenance employees, who had unrestricted access to buildings as part of their job duties, were able to remove installed fixtures and equipment,” the audit notes.
Grambling already has been facing significant financial struggles. This fall, Warrick outlined efforts to address its more than $3 million deficit, which include plans to increase faculty teaching loads while requiring furloughs, provide incentives for 15 faculty members to retire and possibly even shutter the Grambling Laboratory Schools.
The Grambling State audit notes the university’s trend of spending more than it has over a five-year period. Meanwhile, enrollment and state funding have been stagnant or have fallen.
The university’s fall enrollment is 4,504 — down 11 percent from last year. Based on the tuition rate, Warrick has estimated the university is out $3.7 million.
Meanwhile, at LSU the audit notes that finances have been relatively consistent, despite drops in state funding. It also notes that total enrollment across the system has been relatively consistent.
The auditor noted 10 instances of falsified payroll records — eight of which led to improper payments to employees.
The incidences included student employees in the Chemistry Department and Center for Computation and Technology falsifying time sheets and forging their supervisors’ signatures for hours not worked. All of the employees noted no longer work for LSU, according to the audit.
Additionally, forms that Pennington Biomedical Research Center has to submit to track federal funding were turned in several months late.
LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander said in his letter that he also agreed with the LSU audit’s findings.
Responses there are expected to be completed by the end of January and include launching an ethics hotline for anonymous tips and establishing best practices for student employment and oversight for overtime requests.