Office of the President
GSU advances with Pogue
11:23 PM, Jan. 25, 2012 – After years of financial audits with significant findings, Grambling State University has turned the corner.
University President Frank Pogue and his team, which includes the university's former state auditor, deserve much praise for righting the ship. Restoring GSU's financial integrity was one of Pogue's top priorities when he assumed the presidency, and it's clear he meant business.
While the current audit wasn't perfect, GSU officials months ago expected not everything would be cleared because of the short length of time between the release of the prior year's audit and the end of the fiscal year.
Both findings, however, were the result of issues that occurred years ago, and many of the problems that the university had repeatedly been cited for in recent years were not noted in the report.
The issues cited in the audit were a continuing loss of movable property and an IRS penalty related to payroll taxes for two prior years.
In his response to the audit, Pogue said the university has already taken measures to address the issue, including the September 2011 hiring of a Property Control Manager with more than 30 years of property experience.
GSU also instituted a financial restitution policy called "Responsibility for Safeguarding and Accounting for Movable Assets," revised its Movable Assets Policy in October 2010 to include more prompt reporting of suspected thefts, provided additional training for property staff and individual departmental inventory specialists and launched a campus-wide cleanup of inoperable and obsolete equipment in November 2011.
Pogue said much of the missing property was lost several years ago, which is an issue that can't be resolved overnight, adding that his priority has been to prevent any more property from being lost in the future.
The university was also assessed and paid $15,982 in penalties and $355 in interest to the IRS for failing to properly classify its employees, file the required tax forms and deposit its payroll taxes by the required due dates in accordance with IRS rules and regulations.
In Pogue's response to the audit, he said those issues related to tax years 2008 and 2010.
To prevent them from happening again, Pogue said the university hired an experienced payroll manager in August 2010 and an IRS-sponsored webinar has been provided for training relating to timely deposit of payroll taxes.
The university has also added training for both the payroll and disbursements staff.
Pogue said improved staffing, a newly installed accounting system and better retention of good employees has made a significant difference in the fiscal accountability of the university's bookkeeping, which is apparent with this most recent audit.
"My approach to audits is that they are designed to empower an organization or institution to do a better job and to make sure excellence can be achieved," he said. "We have come quite a distance. We are very pleased with where we are today and where we are heading."
We would certainly agree.
The editorials in this column represent the opinions of The News-Star's editorial board, composed of President and Publisher David B. Petty, Executive Editor Kathy Spurlock, and community representatives Liz Jones Craft, Mike Riley and Ronnie Traylor.