By Cheyenne Haslett
State auditors recently released a report criticizing UConn financial processions, specifically the switchover to a new financial system, during which $902,000 was spent on software of which the university did not make use, and a $10.1 million grant to Kuali Financial Systems without thorough documentation.
Although UConn paid SciQuest, a company that develops automation software to help manage spending and other financial actions, between $265,000 and $331,000 annually beginning in 2009, the university did not start using the software until 2012, according to the audit released Aug. 27.
“Though significant licensing costs were incurred, the university did not make use of this software until Kuali Financial System software was deployed effective July 1, 2012. This software should not have been licensed before the university was ready to make use of it,” the audit detailed.
According to UConn spokesman Tom Breen, the university initially believed SciQuest would be put to use with the previous software, but thereafter determined that a new financial system was necessary, leading to a lag time between acquiring licenses for the new financial system.
“The board agrees with the audit finding. The university should not have paid for software it was not using,” said Board of Trustees Chair Lawrence McHugh. “That is not defensible, which the university’s then-leadership should have known in 2009, when this issue arose.”
The audit also determined that the SciQuest contract was submitted and presented to the Board of Trustees, but records do not show that the project was approved.
“A project of this magnitude should not have been initiated without board approval,” the report stated.
McHugh detailed changes that have resulted: “The board is pleased that since then, new leadership has changed the university’s internal processes to ensure that this does not happen again…major IT implementation projects also now come before the board for approval, which better allows the board to fulfill its oversight responsibilities.”
The audit also criticized the payment of over $10 million to Kuali Financial Systems software, UConn’s latest financial software program.
“UConn did not adequately document the selection of its new financial system,” the report stated. “Furthermore, the initial selection process appeared to have been driven solely by the UConn core financial management and staff. We found no evidence of significant input from the wider university community.”
The audit suggests that UConn “conduct a formal, well-documented selection process for all major acquisitions. Every functional area that will be significantly affected should have adequate representation and input into the process.”
In response, the university plainly stated, “we agree.”
“The response shows that even before the audit, we’d already put in place a process to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Breen said.
UConn professional employees’ salaries and the lack of maximum compensation guidelines were also scrutinized by the audit. Without these guidelines, UConn professional employees can obtain indefinitely increasing compensation levels, the audit said.
“Recent reports show that current salaries for UConn’s executive management positions are generally consistent with the salaries for positions with comparable duties and responsibilities in the four markets referenced above,” responded the University.
The audit concludes with the Status of Prior Audit Recommendations, a list of previous recommendations from past audits, six of which are “restated and repeated” due to a lack of action. In addition, there are 15 new recommendations.