Ask Amy — Practical Advice for Supervisors: How Do I Implement and Sustain Internal Controls Within My Department?

A Message from Amy Bosley, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources

Since internal controls help you and the College assure we are meeting objectives, maintaining accuracy, reporting reliable information and are compliant with laws, regulations and policies, this is a great question.

This month, to help answer this question, I’ve invited a guest author, Cynthia Santiago-Guzman, to respond. Cynthia is Valencia’s director of compliance and audit and is one of only two employees who report directly to the District Board of Trustees (the other is Dr. Shugart).

Cynthia will lend us her expertise in helping you think about implementing and sustaining appropriate internal controls within your department.

By Cynthia Santiago-Guzman

Internal control is the integration of the activities, plans, policies and Valencia employees working together to provide reasonable assurance that the College will achieve its objectives and mission. As such, internal control:

  • Affects every aspect of the College — all of its people, processes and infrastructure;
  • Is a basic element that permeates the College; not a feature that is added on;
  • Incorporates the qualities of good management;
  • Is dependent upon people and will succeed or fail depending on the attention people give to it;
  • Is effective when all of the people and the surrounding environment work together;
  • Provides a level of comfort regarding the likelihood of achieving the College’s objectives; and
  • Helps the College achieve its mission.

A well-designed internal control system can enhance your department’s efficiency and effectiveness as well as reduce risk of loss or theft. Management is responsible for developing a good system of internal controls; however, it is everyone’s responsibility to maintain an effective system of internal controls by promoting due diligence in your daily responsibilities.

Even with a well-designed internal control system, errors and/or fraud are susceptible. An effective system of internal controls can only be preserved by the diligence of every person involved. Some examples of good internal controls include:

  • Segregation of duties separating the responsibilities for authorizing, processing and recording transactions so no one individual controls key aspects of the transactions or events from initiation through completion;
  • Proper execution of transactions ensuring that transactions are only authorized and executed by persons acting within the scope of their authority;
  • Appropriate documentation for each transaction’s source records that support the directives, approvals and actions taken by the authorized individuals;
  • Strong information technology controls, such as limiting access to modules within financial transaction processing;
  • Regularly review management reports for unusual, odd or irregular entries and ensure the reports are up to date and provide the detail needed to identify red flags; and
  • Keep appropriate records of equipment and supplies to discourage theft and safeguard physical assets.

Internal controls are only effective when they are understood, accepted and used to the benefit of the organization. If something does not seem right or you suspect fraud in your area, please discuss it with your supervisor, a higher level person if the supervisor may be involved or the Office of Compliance and Audit. You may also file a report using the Office of Compliance and Audit webpage contact form.

The Policy Against Improper Activities; Whistleblower Protection (6Hx28: 1-10) provides further guidance on the College’s internal controls policy and reporting of improper activities.

For further advice and assistance to design internal controls appropriate for your department or to schedule an internal control program training for your department, you may contact me at csantiagoguzman@valenciacollege.edu or 407-299-5000, extension 3253.

Ask Amy” is designed to provide supervisors with guidance to successfully navigate opportunities and challenges in your daily work, as you create a culture for employee success within your teams. Each month, I, along with featured guest contributors, will address a question and offer practical solutions from which all supervisors can benefit.

If you would like to ask a question, simply email me with “Ask Amy” in the subject line. Submissions will be included anonymously in the Supervisor Segment and The Grove, and will be addressed monthly as they are received.

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