The following policy and procedures relate to interactions between university personnel and external auditors. An external auditor is defined as any non-University of Washington auditor or reviewer, such as the State Auditor’s Office, federal auditors and reviewers, and independent certified public accounting firms. Please notify the Internal Audit Department if you are contacted by a non-University of Washington auditor or reviewer.
It is the policy of the University of Washington to fully cooperate with external auditors. In the furtherance of this objective, it is expected that auditors and university personnel will observe certain procedures intended to facilitate orderly audits and to minimize disruption of normal departmental operations. These procedures are outlined in the following sections.
As part of the audit coordination process, the Internal Audit Department serves as liaison between central administrative offices, university departments and external auditors. All initial contacts with external auditors should be arranged through the University of Washington Executive Director, Internal Audit Department. If any university personnel are contacted directly by an external auditor, they should notify the Executive Director of the Internal Audit Department. Appropriate advance arrangements must be made to ensure that (1) the proper persons are on hand to assist the external auditors, (2) relevant records are gathered together in a timely manner, and (3) the contact is scheduled to minimize disruption of departmental activities.
The Internal Audit Department will keep a record of all correspondence, meeting minutes, and other written communications between the external auditor and the Internal Audit Department.
Notification of Audit
By the Auditor
The external auditor should send a written notification of the upcoming audit to the Executive Director of the Internal Audit Department. The written notification should include the following:
- subject area,
- scope and purpose of the audit,
- approximate start date and duration of the audit.
This will assist the University in arranging for people and records to be available when the external auditor requires them.
By the Executive Director of the Internal Audit Department
The Executive Director of the Internal Audit Department will notify the appropriate university officials regarding the scope, purpose, schedule, and other information relevant to the upcoming audit
The Executive Director of the Internal Audit Department will coordinate an entrance conference with the appropriate university officials and the external auditors. The objectives of this conference are to establish the purpose, scope, and timing of the audit or review; determine the information required by the external auditor; and arrange the physical facilities and equipment needed to facilitate the audit. Minutes of the meeting will be taken and made available to the external auditors and appropriate university personnel.
Contact During Audit
After the entrance conference, all requests for specific information or interviews with faculty and staff should be coordinated through the department administrator or designated university personnel. The Executive Director of the Internal Audit Department or appropriate university personnel may accompany faculty or staff members during interviews when deemed appropriate. The external auditor should keep the Executive Director of Internal Audit Department or designated university official informed of any mistakes, discrepancies, or audit questions or concerns that arise during the audit process. The purpose of such contact is to expedite the audit and to provide additional information or clarify any ambiguities.
For specific external groups, certain procedures during the audit may vary from the general procedures, as discussed below.
After the entrance conference, all questions and requests for specific information or interviews with employees will be coordinated through the department administrator or appropriate department personnel. The department administrator will obtain the necessary documentation and will arrange for interviews. The department administrator may directly contact the Office of Sponsored Programs, and Grant and Contract Accounting Offices for assistance.
Program reviews are often conducted to review program operations and to determine whether the project is meeting programmatic goals. In these cases, the program reviews should be coordinated through the department administrator who will obtain the necessary documentation and arrange for interviews. However, some program reviews, such as those conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, include a review of fiscal operations. In these cases, the department administrator should coordinate the review of fiscal operations with the Executive Director of the Internal Audit Department.
For program reviews of student financial aid, the Department of Education may work directly through the Director of Financial Aid.
State Auditor's Office and CPA Firms
After the entrance conference, all requests for specific information or interviews with staff can be arranged through the appropriate department administrator or designated university personnel.
When the audit has been completed the Executive Director of the Internal Audit Department will schedule an exit conference. The purpose of the exit conference is to inform university representatives of the audit findings. At this time, any misunderstandings are clarified and unresolved financial issues discussed. Minutes of the meeting will be taken and made available to the external auditors and appropriate university personnel.
On a timely basis, the university will provide external auditors with access to all records that are relevant to the audit, except those deemed by the university to be legally privileged or protected. Auditors should be allowed to make copies of documents as necessary, but should not be permitted to take original documents out of the office. Availability of records is subject to the University Records Retention policy, which allows destruction of records within prescribed limits.
Records may be located in either the central offices (Financial Services, Grant and Contract Accounting, Office of Sponsored Programs, Payroll) or at the departments. The external auditor must make arrangements through the appropriate department head or administrator for the retrieval and refiling of records.
Use of University Computer and Administrative Systems
If external auditors need to use university computer resources or access the university administrative systems, the auditor-in-charge should send a written request to the Executive Director of the Internal Audit Department describing the need in the most specific terms possible. Such a request should be made in advance so that proper arrangements can be made.