Thursday, March 15, 2007

Auditor Mary Taylor commended by Plain Dealer

State Auditor Mary Taylor was commended by the Plain Dealer on the good job she did in pointing out the fiscal irresponsibility at three of our public universities.

Rightfully so and long overdue, Taylor shows the public universities are wasting tax payer dollars and have less than desirable accounting practices.

Rev. Strickland's new budget should fix the yearly pleadings of the universities for more money by promising more state funding in exchange for no tuition increase. This mindless reasoning, directly contradicts Taylor's findings. Throwing good money after bad never fixed anything!

From the PD:

State Auditor Mary Taylor performed a valuable service last week when she re minded taxpayers that Ohio's universities must do more than plead for new money - they also must prove they handle existing dollars well.

In releasing audits of three public universities, Taylor cited steps the institutions could take to improve both fiscal accountability and computer security. Although these reports reference specific institutions - Ohio State, Cleveland State and Youngstown State universities - some of the recommendations probably apply to others in Ohio's system.

OSU, the state's flagship campus, earned a generally positive audit but is advised to strengthen its own monitoring and better organize payroll systems to limit chances for malfeasance. OSU's finance officials already have begun making those improvements.

The auditor's findings in Cleveland and Youngstown, meanwhile, are more worrisome. At CSU, for example, the audit cites several instances where officials did not provide necessary documentation for two federal grant programs. YSU also had trouble with a federal grant, according to its audit, because of failures to account correctly for employee time. Both schools agreed to make recommended changes.

Also worth noting in these reports are the disparities in size and resources among the institutions. OSU's operating costs, for example, totaled about $3.3 billion in 2006, while CSU spent $241 million and YSU $168 million.

These figures alone testify to some of the challenges Eric Fingerhut will face as the state's new chancellor of higher education; as much as some call for standardized approaches, significant differences exist among campuses.

Audits like these, coupled with data included in the Board of Regents' annual performance reports, should help Fingerhut recognize schools' unique characteristics, yet at the same time focus on taxpayers' most important question: Are we getting our money's worth?

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