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Internal Control Hotline: Ensuring an Ethical Community

A wide range of activity that could involve ethical lapses can and should be reported to the Office of Audit & Management Services, whose staff evaluates each report and starts an informal, confidential review.

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 20, 2015) — University at Albany faculty and staff have a number to call if they observe misuse of campus funds or property — it’s the Internal Control Hotline, at (518) 437-4738.

The Hotline is dedicated to continuing the University's efforts to establish and maintain those operating practices, reporting relationships, and policies and procedures which are critical to the integrity of the University. They help to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of operations, reliability of financial reporting, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. On a personal level, they help protect valuable assets, data and other resources from breaches, theft and misuse.

Some ethical lapses can be easily identified, but at times it may be difficult to distinguish if a line has been crossed. A wide range of activity can and should be reported, such as observed or suspected frauds, thefts, embezzlements, falsification of University records, or other financial offenses against the University, which would include misuse of University funds or funds entrusted to the University.

President Jones has characterized adherence to internal control as a matter of personal responsibility. He wrote to the campus in May, “each individual faculty and staff member and student here at the University at Albany and within our affiliated entities shares responsibility for creating and maintaining a proper internal control environment and helping us avoid unfortunate and damaging incidents from taking place within our University community.”

The Internal Control Hotline at UAlbany came about in the mid-2000s, prompted by the Enron and WorldCom scandals. James Walser, director of the Office of Audit & Management Services noted that, while other methods of reporting suspected wrongdoing existed (and do so today), the Hotline would offer a more confidential method of reporting and solving problems — even providing anonymity. Studying its use at other colleges and universities, he determined it had become a true industry "best practice," and convinced then-President Kermit Hall to institute it at UAlbany.

Today, the Hotline procedure begins as soon as an allegation is made. Callers receive instructions that guide them through the reporting process. The Office of Audit & Management Services staff then evaluate the report and an informal review begins to determine the potential merit of the allegation. If necessary, directors of other departments are contacted to aid in reviewing the claim.

An e-mail address also has been established to receive reports in confidence: ichotline@albany.edu. Written communication may be addressed to: Office of Audit and Management Services; UAB-234; University at Albany; 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12222, or by FAX at 437-4515.

Walser encourages callers to contact him directly after they have contacted the Hotline. The more information given about the incident within the report, the more he has to work with to make a conclusion.

More background and guidance about reporting your issues can be found on the Internal Control Hotline website, http://www.albany.edu/internalcontrol/internal-control-hotline.php.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.