Campus financial management discussion kicks off

March 6, 2014

The University of Wisconsin­–Madison is building on the success of a recent forum to engage the campus community in a discussion about effective financial management practices and internal controls.

Darrell Bazell

Darrell Bazzell

About 450 people from across the campus, including university leaders and staff with financial management and resource stewardship responsibilities, attended the Feb. 25 Financial Forum at Union South. The forum covered a wide range of issues relating to financial reporting and compliance and responsible stewardship of resources.

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Darrell Bazzell said the forum is just the beginning of a campuswide conversation about sound financial management and internal controls.

“This is the start of a process – a process that will require strong collaboration all across the campus,” Bazzell says. “The process will lead to higher-quality financial and business management and strengthen UW–Madison’s standing as a preeminent university.”

Internal controls are a framework an organization uses to help accomplish its goals and objectives, maintain compliance with laws and regulations, ensure the reliability of financial information for effective decision-making and protect its resources.

Featured speakers at the Financial Forum included Larry Rittenberg, who recently retired as the Ernst & Young Professor of Accounting and Information Systems in the Wisconsin School of Business, and Joan Hagen, associate vice president and university controller at Indiana University. Rittenberg served as chair of the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission, also known as COSO, which developed the Internal Control, Integrated Framework now used by all public companies in reporting on the effectiveness of their internal controls.

“This is the start of a process – a process that will require strong collaboration all across the campus. The process will lead to higher-quality financial and business management and strengthen UW–Madison’s standing as a preeminent university.”

Darrell Bazzell

Martha Kerner, assistant vice chancellor for business services, said the Financial Forum – the first of its kind at UW–Madison – also featured cross-campus collaboration and participation. She noted that staff from across campus served as facilitators and subject-matter experts and served on planning teams.

“This type of cooperative effort will be needed as we move forward with a strategy for addressing important financial and business management issues and ensuring that we have effective internal controls,” she said.

Actions following the Financial Forum include:

  • Responding to all questions submitted to panelists and speakers during the forum’s morning session.
  • Summarizing information and feedback provided at the forum’s interactive breakout sessions.
  • Using this information to help identify vulnerable financial practices, functions and operations to begin a comprehensive risk assessment.

Developing and implementing a robust campus strategy on internal controls is expected to be a multi-year process. It will include defining participation, roles and responsibilities of leadership and staff across campus.