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Auditors flag 21 problems at UF
A school spokesman says the state agency found fewer problems than in most recent years.
By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER, Times Staff Writer
Published December 5, 2007
State auditors found a number of financial flaws and questionable practices at Florida's flagship public university during the 2006-07 budget year, according to a new operational report.
The auditor general found 21 areas where the University of Florida overspent, didn't follow state procedures and failed to properly document payroll, contracts and other matters.
UF spokesman Steve Orlando said university officials have responded to auditors' concerns and are taking measures to correct the problems.
He pointed out that this most recent audit had fewer findings than previous years' audits. The operational audit for 2004, for example, found 25 problems.
"When you consider the size of the place and the number of people employed here, this is really middle of the pack," Orlando said.
One of the auditors' biggest concerns was millions in long-running budget deficits in UF's largest college, liberal arts and sciences, which spent $4.7-million more than budgeted in 2005-06 and nearly $3-million more than was budgeted for the following year.
The liberal arts college's woes were first reported in 2006, and UF has since reorganized the college and made budget cuts. This year, trustees also adopted new budget guidelines and staff training requirements to prevent future overspending.
Auditors also questioned the legality and expenditure of certain UF fees, including those charged to students who study abroad and to students enrolled in master's business programs.
Business fees for "materials and supplies" and other expenses generated more than $8-million for the '06-07 budget year, yet UF did not provide documentation to satisfy auditors that the revenue was properly spent or necessary.
UF's response maintains it has the right to charge those fees, based on UF policy, state law and Board of Governors regulations.
Auditors concluded the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science also needs to do a better job of collecting the money it is owed for contracts and grants.
Records show the institute last year was owed more than $16-million dating to before 2003. Orlando said that reflects contract and grant payments that various state agencies have yet to pay.
UF officials told auditors that they are developing policies to tighten up the collections process and that they have reduced the amount owed to the institute by $10-million.