Washington State University is not doing a good enough job watching its petty cash or the money received for tickets to athletic events, a state auditor said.
A 12-page audit made public this week suggests WSU improve accounting controls to avoid the risk of loss and fraud.
“Lack of adequate controls over cash handling increases the risk that errors or irregularities could occur,” said the report from the office of Auditor Brian Sonntag.
For example, cash collections were not always supported by pre-numbered receipts or cash register tapes.
Petty cash funds that had not been approved by the university were discovered in the audit. Some money from petty cash funds was used for entertainment expenses in violation of university policy, the audit said, without detailing how the money was spent.
Sallie Giffen, vice president for business at WSU, said the university is aware of the accounting problems and is working on ways to tighten controls.
Part of the problem, she said, stems from a decentralized system of accounting that places responsibility for cash handling with individual departments.
In some cases, employees are not trained in proper accounting methods, she said, so the university will have to start a training program.
The Athletic Department sells some $2.1 million worth of tickets each year. The auditor found discrepancies between official ticket receipts and ledgers showing how many tickets had been issued.
In some cases, cash receipts for tickets did not match the dollar value of tickets sold.
Giffen said there was no evidence that money from ticket sales had been taken.
The auditor also criticized WSU for not watching the use of paid leaves of absences. The auditor said a lack of oversight could result in some employees getting leave they had not earned.
Giffen said the accounting problems are not unusual for an institution the size of WSU. Internal auditors at the university uncovered some of the same problems, she said, and efforts are under way to close accounting loopholes.