Westfield State University criticized over inventory policies

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Westfield State University says that it will be considering changes to how they keep track of inventory, following a state audit that faulted them for inaccurate record keeping. Auditor Suzanne Bump released the report Wednesday, which analyzed the university’s procedures from July of 2014 through March of 2015.

The audit investigated five different areas, including the implementation of safeguards over administrative expenses and disclosure of crime reports. The university was found to be in compliance with four out of the five questions- but were found not to be in compliance with their own policies and procedures for safeguarding property and equipment.

Conducting a random sample of 40 university assets, they found that a $1,099 laptop computer was on their inventory list, but could not be located, and that a $1,020 network device was not at the location listed in their inventory. Officials at the university told the investigators that employees were unaware of Westfield State policy to notify their Inventory Control Council when assets are moved.

Further, the audit faulted Westfield State for not conducting annual inventories of their fixed assets. A total of $917,255 in equipment (492 assets total) had not been physically verified since 2007. Current policy at the university only requires an annual inventory of 20% of assets approved for off-campus use.

They were also criticized for improper disposal of computer equipment. Bump’s audit says that Westfield State employees got rid of 65 different devices without first contacting the state’s Operational Services Division, which is the proper procedure.

In response to the audit, Westfield State University released the following statement:

“WSU has already taken steps to revise our fixed assets policy to ensure alignment with Commonwealth policies and proper internal control practices, as a result of an internal audit. The fixed assets policy changes will be proposed to the trustees in fall 2016. This includes a 100% annual physical inventory of fixed assets, both on and off campus.

WSU will communicate to faculty and staff the existing and revised fixed assets policy and require compliance. The campus will also communicate the proper means of asset disposal including Operational Services Division approval requirements. In-person and online presentations will be held before the conclusion of the fall 2016 semester.

WSU will develop a more effective method for faculty and staff to report relocations of assets and will implement it by the conclusion of the spring 2017 semester.
The campus community will also receive semi-annual notices of the fixed assets policy to further promote awareness and compliance. Per the WSU Computer Allocation, Support, and Tracking Policy, Technology staff are responsible for scanning assets that they issue and relocate. Technology staff are issued hand-held scanners to easily and efficiently report asset movements. Due to the significant amount of assets handled by Technology staff and their use of scanners, they will receive separate notices focused on their specific responsibilities. Management will review the fixed assets inventory report to investigate discrepancies. The Associate Director of Accounting will analyze inventory data on a quarterly basis and report findings to the Associate Vice President of Finance and Vice President of Administration and Finance.

Our board of trustees is given a progress report annually regarding the annual inventory, per our existing fixed assets policy.

As a result of our internal audit, steps have been taken to improve procedures. Department Heads are now given an annual report of all assets on record for their department. Also, additional review of fixed asset accounting reconciliations occurs monthly.”