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November 26, 2001

ULM audit released

Officials at the University of Louisiana at Monroe have received a "qualified opinion" for their most recent financial audit for fiscal year ended June 30, 2001. Upon releasing the audit, Dr. Daniel Kyle, Louisiana Legislative Auditor, and his team of auditors assigned to ULM commended President Lawson Swearingen and members of his staff for an outstanding effort on behalf of the University.

"The President, Vice President Turner, and all of the staff should be very proud of the work that has been done," Kyle said. "To move from a disclaimer to a qualified opinion in just one year is exceptional. The University has made phenomenal progress."

Kyle and his team further reported that the ending fund balances as presented in the University's year end financial statements were fairly stated and that they believed an "unqualified opinion" is a realistic goal for the next audit cycle.

University of Louisiana System President Dr. Sally Clausen, who attended the exit conference with Kyle at ULM on November 15, commended President Swearingen and his team for their good work.

"President Swearingen made it his daily priority to ensure a turnaround in ULM's fiscal operations and audit results, and he accomplished that," said Clausen. "We deeply appreciate his dedication and follow-through."

"This was no small task that the ULM administration has achieved. We appreciate their many and tireless efforts to ensure that this critical work was done timely and properly," Clausen added.

The ULM audit report contained six findings, down two-thirds from last year's eighteen. ULM officials were congratulated on the improvements over the previous year, and were commended by the auditors for the significant progress that has been made already this year on the six findings cited.

Many of this audit's findings are the result of dealing with transition issues relating to software conversion and lack of personnel in key computer information system areas. The University began addressing both of these issues early in 2001 by adding and reassigning personnel in the Business Affairs Division. The six deal with the following issues: bookstore control, collection efforts for amounts owed the university, information system control, preparation of financial statements, fiduciary responsibility over agency funds, and controls over parking fines.

Kyle was impressed with the Administration's use of business professionals outside of the academic community to work with ULM staff in reorganizing the Business Affairs Division into a more efficient workplace utilizing the latest technology support.

"President Swearingen is to be commended for getting outsiders involved in this process. That was a critical and very important decision that helped bring about this result," Kyle said. Long a champion for accountability, Kyle added, "I have repeatedly advised presidents to push accountability down to the individual budget units, and President Swearingen's actions in that regard have contributed to the success of this audit."

Clausen joined Kyle in commending the Administration for including representatives from the area business community in the process to enact reform.

"President Swearingen built important partnerships with the greater business community throughout his tenure as president, and this is but one example of the wisdom of that course," said Clausen.

Swearingen thanked all involved for working tirelessly over the past year to place the fiscal records in order.

"I especially commend Vice President Turner and his staff for their cooperative spirit and their willingness to work exceedingly long hours to make certain that our goals were met. The unprecedented cooperation among various offices within the Business Affairs Division as well as the generous volunteer effort on the part of a blue-ribbon business executive task force from the private sector have made this possible," said Swearingen. "We are proud of this work, and anticipate that the procedures that have been established as a result of this effort will ensure smooth fiscal operations in the future for ULM."

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