Internal controls are not new. They are the procedures and instructions followed so work can be performed efficiently and effectively. Internal Controls are also the steps an organization takes to make sure assets are safeguarded, records are accurate and operations comply with applicable laws and regulations. Finally, internal controls are basic management practices that cover administrative, fiscal and program activities.
Some examples of internal controls are:
• University communications such as the Manual of General Policy,
• Use of a password to access on-line computer systems,
• Separation of duties when refunds are initiated and processed,
• Review and approval by a supervisor when processing a purchase order,
• Reconciliation of accounting records with monthly bank statements, and
• Use of Internal Audit to review operations and ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations.
The New York State Governmental Accountability and Internal Control act of 1987 was enacted to improve government productivity and accountability. It included a number of provisions to strengthen each state agency's internal controls.
These provisions include:
• Establish and maintain guidelines for a system of internal controls.
• Establish a system of internal control reviews for managers to identify weaknesses and implement corrective actions.
• Implement education and training efforts to ensure employee understanding of internal control standards and evaluation techniques.
• Make a clear and concise statement of the University's generally applicable management policies and standards available to all employees.
• Evaluate the need for an internal audit unit.
• Designate an Internal Control Officer to implement and review the University's internal control program.
The City University of New York has complied with the provisions of the Act in the following ways:
• The University guidelines for internal controls were presented in a handbook distributed to the College Internal Control Officers and other University officials.
• The University has set up a comprehensive program of internal control review. The program includes a self-evaluation to assess the risks and controls in each work unit's operating environment and activities. The program also involves yearly internal control reviews of each work unit's activities. A key aspect is a mechanism for managers to identify and make necessary improvements.
• The University's educational efforts have included presentations at seminars/meetings, meeting with administrative and academic councils on internal controls, publishing an internal control newsletter and presentation of a video to employees on internal controls.
• Statements reflecting the University's (including Central Office and the colleges) generally applicable policies and standards are issued to all employees. The major points are repeated later in this overview.
• The University established an Internal Audit Office to independently review University operations.
• The Director of the Office of Internal Audit is the University's Internal Control Officer, and reports directly to the Chancellor.
While internal controls are primarily the responsibility of managers and supervisors, all University employees play an important part in maintaining strong internal controls. This ongoing responsibility includes adhering to established controls and participating in strengthening operations when weaknesses are found and improvements identified.
Employees who work with procedures on a daily basis are in a good position to know what is working and what is not. You may be aware of controls that are weak or excessive. You are encouraged to suggest improvements to your supervisor and your supervisor is encouraged to listen.
In addition, employees in the course of performing their duties should be cognizant of any suspected irregularities engaged in by others around them. Irregularities include such matter as conflicts of interest, falsification of records and reports, and misappropriation of funds or other assets. If you are aware of any such occurrences, immediately notify the appropriate college official(s) or if warranted, contact Mr. Louis Chiacchere, the University's Internal Control Officer, at (212) 794-5421.
Everyone has a critical responsibility in seeing that the University operates properly. We all play an important role in meeting the mission of the University to maintain and expand academic excellence and equal access and opportunity for all students, faculty and staff.
Policies and standards inform employees of both their responsibilities and rights. Compliance with the University's as well as the colleges' policies and standards helps to ensure that the University's objectives are met.
The University's generally applicable policies and standards are reflected through the following sources which are readily available for employee review:
• Bylaws of the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York,
• Policies of The City University of New York as established by resolutions approved by the Board and recorded in the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Trustees,
• Applicable Collective Bargaining Agreements,
• Rules and Regulations of the Civil Service Commission of The City University of New York,
• Affirmative Action Policies,
• Sexual Harassment Policies,
• The University Fiscal Handbook for the Control and Accountability of Student Activity Fees,
• Tuition and Fee Manual of The City University of New York,
• Rules and Regulations for the Maintenance of Public Order pursuant to Article 129-A of the Education Law, and
• Smoking Policy of The City University of New York
In addition, the colleges have other written policies and standards published in the following:
• Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogues,
• Faculty Handbook,
• Student Handbook, and
• Governance Plan.
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