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Audit of UMass Lowell Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

An explanation of what the UMass Lowell audit examined and how it was conducted.

Table of Contents

Overview

In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) has conducted a performance audit of certain activities of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016.

We conducted this performance audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.

Below is a list of our audit objectives, indicating each question we intended our audit to answer; the conclusion we reached regarding each objective; and, if applicable, where each objective is discussed in the audit findings.

Objective

Conclusion

  1. Does UMass Lowell properly administer its inventory of fixed assets?

No; see Finding 1

  1. Does UMass Lowell properly administer the use of procurement cards (ProCards) in terms of ensuring that all expenses paid using university credit cards are properly approved and documented?

No; see Finding 2

  1. Does UMass Lowell ensure that it takes appropriate measures to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)? Specifically,

 

  • Has UMass Lowell developed an emergency evacuation plan that takes into account the needs of students with mobility-related disabilities?

Yes

  • Has UMass Lowell taken appropriate measures to ensure that students with disabilities have access to supplemental learning aids, services, and alternative learning and testing formats in a timely manner?

Yes

To achieve our objectives, we gained an understanding of the internal controls we determined to be significant to our audit objectives and evaluated the design and effectiveness of those controls for the inventory of fixed assets and certain ProCard expenditures.

In addition, we performed the following procedures to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to address our audit objectives.

Inventory

We obtained and reviewed the Staging Table Report generated by UMass Lowell’s inventory software. This report identifies fixed assets (e.g., computer equipment, automobiles, and certain types of laboratory equipment) that have been purchased but not added to the university’s inventory list.

We sampled and examined inventory items to verify their existence and the completeness of UMass Lowell’s inventory list and proper tagging of items with asset identification numbers. The population consisted of 13,181 fixed assets, totaling $69,329,911 in purchase costs, which included all capital and non-capital assets and all information technology (IT) equipment. From this population, we selected a nonstatistical judgmental sample of 45 fixed assets to physically verify their existence. We also judgmentally selected another 45 fixed assets on the UMass Lowell campuses to verify that they had asset identification tags affixed and were accurately recorded on the inventory list. Both sample selections included items that we deemed most vulnerable to theft or misuse, such as IT equipment (e.g., laptops and tablet computers). We did not test the disposal of fixed assets.

In order to determine whether lost or stolen inventory was reported properly in accordance with UMass Lowell guidelines and Chapter 647 of the Acts of 1989,1 we compared all 12 of UMass Lowell’s Chapter 647 reports that were submitted during the audit period with OSA records and compared the date of each incident with the date the report was submitted to OSA.

ProCards

To verify the completeness of the ProCard data, we compared all ProCard transactions recorded in UMass Lowell’s general ledger (PeopleSoft) to all ProCard transactions processed by UMass Lowell’s ProCard vendor during the audit period.

To determine whether ProCard activity logs were properly approved and documented, we obtained from the ProCard vendor a list of all transactions whose dates were within our audit period and determined the population of monthly ProCard activity logs. From the population of 12,745 logs, valued at $13,462,978, we chose a nonstatistical judgmental sample of 72, valued at $909,355. We tested this sample of 72 logs to validate that each transaction listed had a stated business purpose applicable to the employee role and department involved. We verified that each transaction was supported by vendor receipts and by proper approval for purchases.

Student Disability Services

To evaluate whether students covered by the ADA were offered emergency planning, we identified a population of 79 students2 with mobility-related disabilities and selected a judgmental sample of 11 UMass Lowell Student Disability Services student files to identify evidence of communication of ADA-related information and development of personal evacuation plans.

We evaluated the completeness and timeliness of UMass Lowell’s process for administering ADA accommodation requests. Specifically, we judgmentally selected a sample of 35 student files out of 952 for students who had identified themselves as having disabilities and reviewed each one to verify that it was supported by an ADA Accommodation Form and diagnosis documentation from a medical practitioner or accepted official source (such as a school district psychologist) verifying a need for services.

Data Reliability

We obtained information from UMass Lowell’s PeopleSoft system, which contains employee and student records, the inventory of fixed assets, and ProCard transactions. We conducted information security testing by using questionnaires, conducting interviews, reviewing supporting documentation, and performing observations to determine the reliability of the information obtained from PeopleSoft. We traced all fixed assets purchased during the last quarter of fiscal year 2016 according to UMass Lowell’s inventory list to source documents (e.g., purchase orders) and general-ledger amounts. We traced all ProCard transactions recorded in the general ledger during the audit period to ProCard vendor records. We traced 35 student records for individuals with disabilities to source documents. We determined that the information was sufficiently reliable for the purpose of audit testing.

Whenever sampling was used, we applied a nonstatistical approach, and as result, we were not able to project our results to the entire populations.

  1. This law requires agencies to file a report with OSA if they find any “unaccounted for variances, losses, shortages or thefts of funds or property.”
  2. The population of students identified represented only students registered during the fall and spring semesters that occurred during the audit period.

Date published: June 12, 2018
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