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Members of SIAS give their thoughts on the results UW Internal Audit did back in January.

On Sept. 16, the UW Internal Audit released an Internal Audit Memorandum regarding the 2019-20 School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences’ budget process. The audit was created to look into the budget process and communication breakdown which had caused class cancellations last year, sending some students, faculty and counselors scrambling to figure out what they would do for the quarter. While the report came back and said that nothing fraudulent or malicious happened, they did say a breakdown of communication happened and offered three recommendations to solve any future problems.

The UW Internal Audit, led by Richard Cordova, offered first that a system should be in place where if a faculty were to leave during the summer or late into the school year, then the dean of the school can request extra funds to ensure classes are not disturbed. Second, UW Internal Audit recommended that faculty not only be included in future talks, but should request to be a part of financial and budget decisions. Finally, the vice-chancellor of Finance should consider new training for important faculty and staff who help manage finances within their own department or school.

Professor Ellen Moore, who served as faculty chair of SIAS at the time, offered her thoughts on the report.

“Kudos to the report, it is very clear,” Moore said. “Richard Cordova and his office were able to find where communication broke down, and was able to understand what happened to the budget.”

Anne C. Bartlett, dean of SIAS, shared a similar sentiment and offered praise to the report, but commented that the whole situation of the breakdown of communication felt like a movie with a series of errors and misunderstandings.

“It is a great report,” Bartlett said. “As dean, I am taking these recommendations forward. It is still surprising to me that there were no guardrails … but the recommendations will help everyone — students, faculty, staff and the campus as a whole.”

The report, which had been requested by Moore, Chancellor Mark Pagano and an anonymous source who had called into the UW Internal Audit’s Internal Audit Hotline, provides the complete history of what happened and where the breakdown of communication occurred. 

The report also sought to answer three questions posed to UW Internal Audit and provides detailed answers for each one. The report sought to answer whether SIAS had a sound budget process, what happened during the 2019-20 budget process — as well as who knew what, where and when — and questioned if the flow of information, from chancellor to dean to faculty, made sense to the faculty.

Finally, the report listed several compounding factors which impacted the whole budget process. This includes things such as SIAS lacking a director of Finance and Operations for eight months, a lack of scheduled training sessions on the previously new budget process as well as miscommunications between all parties concerning funding for temporary lecturers.

“The crux of the matter was the way we had done budgets had shifted,” Moore said. “We were also in the midst of finding a Director of Finance and Operations.”

On final reflections, Bartlett offered an apology for the circumstances, and said she understood how terrible this was for those who were impacted by the series of events. 

“I deeply apologize for this happening,” Bartlett said. “It inconvenienced many people, and caused a lot of grief and anxiety. I wish it had been resolved a lot sooner.”

Moore highly encourages everyone to take a look at the report for themselves. She again gave praise to how easy it is to understand the report and it clarifies many details.

“Anybody can read it,” Moore said. “Everyone should read the report. I think it speaks for itself.”

If you wish to read the report, you can find it at www.tacoma.uw.edu/sites/default/files/sections/Chancellor/Internal-Audit-Review-SIAS-Budget-Process-09-2020.pdf

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