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Suny Research Foundation Audit

Suny Research Foundation Audit

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Published by The Post-Standard

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Published by: The Post-Standard on Oct 22, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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New York State Oce of the State Comptroller
Thomas P. DiNapoliDivision of State Government Accountability
Report 2011-S-24October 2012
Selected Human ResourceControls and Potenal Conictsof InterestThe Research Foundaon for theState University of New York
Division of State Government Accountability
Execuve Summary
To determine if certain aspects of the Research Foundaon for the State University of New York’s(Research Foundaon) employee pracces, contracts and purchases complied with applicablerequirements. The audit covers the period July 1, 2008 through January 31, 2012. In addion,we determined the status of implementaon of the recommendaons from our prior report(2004-S-13) entled Research Foundaon for the State University of New York: Administraveand Discreonary Costs.
The Research Foundaon was chartered in 1951 by the Board of Regents as a private, nonproteducaonal corporaon. Its mission is to work with campus leadership to support research anddiscovery at the State University of New York (SUNY) through administering sponsored projectsand sharing intellectual property for public benet and economic growth. The SUNY Chancellorserves as ex ocio chair of the 15-member Research Foundaon governing board. The ResearchFoundaon has a central oce in Albany (Central Oce) and oces at 30 SUNY locaons. Thelocaons are responsible for day-to-day administraon of sponsored programs.
Key Findings
• Edgar H. Turkle III, Operaons Manager for the Research Foundaon at Bualo State College,charged $130,887 to his corporate credit card for such quesonable items as foreign travel,high-end dining and hotels, and personal items such as a laptop computer, an iPad, iPhones andgroceries. His acons violated policy and resulted in his personal enrichment at the expense of the Research Foundaon.The Central Oce compensated a former General Counsel $345,034, plus a severance package,for less than a year of service. In fact, we calculated the total cost of hiring and employingthis individual was $665,356 for an 11-month period. We queson the Research Foundaon’s juscaon for agreeing to these payments in the employment contract it entered into with
this individual.
• The Research Foundaon assisted a reree in circumvenng Rerement and Social SecurityLaw limits on reree compensaon by hiring this former SUNY Stony Brook employee when sheneared the $30,000 salary cap. The employee connued to perform work for SUNY Stony Brookeven though she was being paid by the Research Foundaon.The Research Foundaon paid $3 million for 10 contracts where we idened a potenal conictof interest and violaons of Research Foundaon policies. As a result, the Research Foundaonhas lile or no assurance that reasonable prices were paid for services.The Chancellor’s account was charged $27,968 to pay for quesonable items, includingmembership to a private club. Given the nature of these items, we recommend that criteria bestrengthened to make clear when such expenses are appropriate.• We had quesons regarding the me and aendance of a Research Foundaon employee andreferred these maers to the State Aorney General’s Oce.Certain of the ndings we idened are similar to the ndings in our prior audit of the ResearchFoundaon. In this regard, Research Foundaon ocials made limited progress in correcng
Division of State Government Accountability
the problems we idened in the prior audit. Of the prior report’s six recommendaons, onewas implemented, two were parally implemented, and three were not implemented.• We believe that many of the problems reported here are aributable to a weak internal controlenvironment. Since mulple people and locaons were involved in the problems we found, we
believe an improved internal control environment is necessary to prevent abuses.
Key Recommendaons
• Improve the control environmentat the Research Foundaon to beer ensure compliance withall relevant laws and policies, including those related to procurement and payroll.• Recover funds spent on purchases and personnel costs that were excessive or not in line withthe Research Foundaon’s mission.
Other Related Audit/Report of Interest

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