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Audit Audit of the Department of Higher Education

This audit reviews the Department of Higher Education's administration of its Foster Child Grant Program, Foster Child Tuition Waver and Fee Assistance Program, and NIL Program needs improvement. It examined the period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016.

Binder organization: Office of the State Auditor
Date published: August 29, 2018

Executive Summary

The Department of Higher Education (DHE) was established under Section 6 of Chapter 15A of the Massachusetts General Laws to serve as the staff to the 13-member Board of Higher Education (BHE). BHE is responsible for coordinating and defining the mission of the Commonwealth’s system of public higher education and its institutions. According to mass.gov, DHE “executes [BHE’s] policies and day-to-day operations.”

In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor has conducted a performance audit of certain activities of DHE for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016. In this audit, we determined whether DHE had a system in place to measure the effectiveness and success of the Foster Child Grant Program, the Foster Child Tuition Waiver and Fee Assistance Program, and the No Interest Loan (NIL) Program. We also examined certain DHE activities related to the accounting for these programs (this examination included the period July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2016) and completed an internal control plan (ICP) review.

Below is a summary of our findings and recommendations, with links to each page listed.

Finding 1

DHE’s administration of its Foster Child Grant Program, Foster Child Tuition Waiver and Fee Assistance Program, and NIL Program needs improvement.

Recommendations

  1. DHE should work with BHE and the Legislature to identify a system for tracking and analyzing data as well as to define key success metrics.
  2. DHE should work to identify any program changes that need to be made to enhance program success.

Finding 2

DHE did not effectively manage certain financial aspects of its student financial assistance programs.

Recommendations

  1. DHE should develop a formal fund balance reconciliation process comprising DHE’s MASSAid system and the Massachusetts Management Accounting and Reporting System to ensure the accuracy of fund balances. This would include developing and implementing monitoring controls to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) and the General Laws.
  2. DHE should make the necessary correcting adjustments to properly reclassify the MASSAid system costs to DHE’s department budget or transfer the costs to the Executive Office of Education’s information technology budget.

Finding 3

DHE’s latest ICP is not fully compliant with OSC’s Internal Control Guide.

Recommendation

DHE should develop a complete and updated ICP based on a current department-wide risk assessment that includes all aspects of its business activities.

A PDF copy of the audit of the Department of Higher Education is available here.

List of Abbreviations

BHE

Board of Higher Education

BSU

Bridgewater State University

COSO

Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission

DCF

Department of Children and Families

DHE

Department of Higher Education

EOE

Executive Office of Education

ERM

enterprise risk management

ICP

internal control plan

IT

information technology

MMARS

Massachusetts Management Accounting and Reporting System

NIL

no-interest loan

OSA

Office of the State Auditor

OSC

Office of the State Comptroller

OSFA

Office of Student Financial Assistance

 

 

Contact

Phone

Fax

(617) 727-3014

Address

Massachusetts State House
Room 230
Boston, MA 02133

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