Michael Cosgrove Audit Principal, CPA, MST
17 June 2020
When COVID-19 began impacting the daily operations, functions, and procedures of daily life, Institutions of Higher Education (IHE’s) were forced to react immediately. As IHE’s continue to function, grow, and change what had been considered normal operations, there are a few other items to consider ensuring best practices remain an attainable objective.
First, IHE’s should review all policies and procedures and written documents that indicate workflows. IHE’s should consider whether the processes have changed. It is likely that the process has changed, but the control points have not.
For example, some IHE’s may have required initials or some other physical sign off for approval, but that procedure now may be via email or electronic initial or signature. If this is the case, then the procedures document that helps support the workflow should be updated to reflect the current working environment. In this case, the control point of requiring approval has not changed, but the procedures or the means to achieving the control point have changed and should
be documented appropriately.
Another important consideration is the overall Board-level involvement, engagement, and recruitment. Board members should be kept informed of all significant decisions and recommendations from management in order to moving forward in the current environment. In addition, some Board policies may need to be revised or rewritten. It is likely that more boards will be meeting virtually, and each board should have the capability to vote and approve from remote locations, even if it is only going to be allowed under the current environment. Different boards have different policies regarding quorums, and each should be reviewed and adjusted, if necessary, for what will work in 2020.
Lastly, as the communications with the Board are happening and Board members are questions how each school compares to their peers, here is some enrollment facts based on NACUBO’s survey. Eighty percent of respondents expect to see a decrease in enrollment, with 51% expecting a decrease of more than 5%. That is a significant expected decline in enrollment. It is likely that budgets were “finalized” or close to being finalized prior to the initial wave of COVID-19 adjustments. It is also highly likely that the budgets will be reviewed and revised numerous times throughout the upcoming fiscal year as more information is available and the future becomes a little clearer.
Please let us know if you have any questions by contacting myself or your favorite O’Connor & Drew, P.C. team member to discuss any of these or any other issues.