The state of Florida released its annual operational audit of the University of Florida, and it contained two findings and recommendations.
According to the audit, UF needs to improve classifying students as Florida residents for tuition purposes and was also taking too long to cancel purchasing card privileges for employees who no longer work for the university.
State law says that Florida universities are obligated to tag students from Latin American and Caribbean countries and receive scholarships from the federal or state government as Florida residents for tuition purposes.
Auditors examined records from 145 students classified as Florida residents. Seventy-six of these students received some sort of scholarship from the University of Florida but not from the state government. University personnel reasoned that because UF is part of the state government, these scholarships should be considered state money.
Auditors disagreed, saying the money was not provided directly from the state of Florida. As a result, UF received $691,000 less in tuition revenue than it would have if the students were categorized as nonresidents.
Auditors recommended that the university ask the Board of Governors if this practice is permitted under state law.
For the second finding, UF utilizes a purchasing card system that allows employees to bypass the standard purchase order process when buying items. A P-card administrative team is responsible for canceling P-cards of former employees and are required to do this as soon as possible.
Auditors examined P-card documentation of 206 former university employees who had separated from UF between July 1, 2014 and April 6, 2015. They found that 46 P-cards were not timely canceled, and 42 of those had not been canceled until after the inquiry in April. These 46 P-cards were not canceled until 11 to 287 days after the employees left the university.
Additionally, auditors found 21 transactions totaling $1,301 from seven former employees. These were recorded 9 to 168 days after the employees left UF. Appropriate personnel had approved the purchases, some of which were automatic charges for oxygen cylinders and field supplies for postgraduate students conducting research for professors.
University personnel attributed these late cancellations to communication delays between departments and the P-card team.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said there was no inappropriate spending by employees determined by the audit.
Auditors recommended that UF strengthen procedures to cancel P-cards in a timely manner.
Sikes says the university has improved since UF was made aware earlier this year.
“The Auditor General identified the issue, and we modified the process in a timely manner,” she said. “We continue educating employees on that process and we don’t anticipate any problems going forward.”