State dings Keys community college in latest operations audit

skinney@keynoter.comDecember 21, 2013 

An audit of Florida Keys Community College, released Thursday by the Florida Auditor General's Office, indicates the college has problems with nine elements of its operations, down from 16 in 2012. Still, some are repeat criticisms from the previous year.

"We're moving in the right direction," Board of Trustees member Brian Schmitt said Friday.

The audit covers the 2013 calendar year; a financial audit tied to the fiscal year is separate and usually comes out the third week of March.

Auditors recommended, for the second year in a row, that the small Stock Island-based college improve its handling of bank reconciliations. According to the audit report, transactions from July 2012 until May 2013 were not recorded until Aug. 12, 2013.

In his "management response," college President Jonathan Gueverra notes that the college has trained its employees in best practices and said the problem is fixed.

Schmitt said Vice President of Finance Jean Mauk, hired in 2011, "had a backlog of things she had to deal with coming in" and now that she's caught up, "I'm confident in how our finances are being managed."

Auditors also found problems with the college's bookkeeping as it relates to the per-credit-hour fee of $25 fee for distance-learning courses, which in some cases may have exceeded the cost of the services provided.

The operational findings centered on controls over how marine engineering and diving classes use the six boats either owned or loaned to the college, as well as the need to tighten up computer security.

The college owns two boats and uses four others on loan. Internal policy requires professors to fill out a detailed request-for-use form that lists the class, names of people on the vessel and purpose.

Auditors found that policy was widely ignored by marine faculty -- two out of the four resigned this year-- and Gueverra agreed, noting the turnover.

"All full-time and part-time marine engineering faculty will be required to acknowledge, in writing, that they have read and understand these policies and procedures," Gueverra said.

In the IT department, auditors found that some employees had access to financial and human-resource databases "unnecessary to their assigned job responsibilities." A separate finding indicated the college hasn't performed an IT risk assessment since 2002.

"The college is continuing to work on it operational efficiency and effectiveness," Gueverra said in an e-mail. "Some of the findings have already been addressed. As evidenced by this operational audit, the college has made considerable strides forward from where we were a year or two or three years ago. We welcome the thorough review by the state auditors and will increase our efforts to reduce and to eliminate the need for audit findings."

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