MCC tightening internal controls to prevent fraud, theft

September 24, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — In light of recent news coverage of incidents in which local and national organizations have been victimized by dishonest employees, in some cases to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, changes are being made at Mohave Community College to nip potential activity in the bud.

College officials told the Board of Governors last week that MCC is strengthening its internal controls and auditing processes to guard against the type of fraud and embezzlement schemes that have been seen elsewhere.

College President Michael Kearns said MCC’s leaders have reviewed its organizational chart, business processes, internal audit procedures, and internal controls and identified areas in which fraud prevention could be enhanced.

Over the next few weeks, he said, changes will be made to “harden” the college against such acts.

For example, payroll functions will be moved from the business office to human resources. Staff also will participate in professional development activities to strengthen their knowledge and skills in internal auditing procedures and fraud prevention.

Additionally, inventory monitoring will be done more frequently, including both announced and unannounced audits.

Kearns said that in some cases, organizational structures were such that “people were writing checks to themselves,” with no process in place to detect that activity until significant losses had occurred.

“Unless there’s another level of review,” he said. “You’re not going to pick it up until it’s way too late.”

College officials said the moves were proactive and there is no suspicion of employees. The changes actually will protect employees, they said.

Among organizations where fraud and theft allegations recently have surfaced are Kingman city government and the Topock Elementary School District.

In other business, board members voted to approve a new salary schedule. Jennie Dixon, MCC’s human resources director, said the change was needed to address the issue of long-term employees who have reached the top of the college’s pay scale.

MCC’s starting pay is attractive, but the top end of its pay scale is “out of whack” with what similar institutions in Arizona are paying, Dixon said.

Also at the meeting, the board voted to approve a freedom of expression policy, to comply with new state law.

The policy states: “Mohave Community College ensures the fullest degree of intellectual freedom and free expression and the right to assemble peaceably as guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

Chief information officer Mark Van Pelt told board members that the college has implemented NSX networking technology to great success, reducing the time it takes to bring the college network back online after a disaster from 72 hours to 48 minutes.

The implementation was such a success that vendor VMWare invited college representatives to present a case study at a national conference in Las Vegas, Van Pelt said.

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