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Olds College should improve some processes: report

MVT Olds College front building
An Alberta auditor general report on post-secondary institutions found certain accounting and disclosure areas that should be improved at Olds College. File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS – Olds College needs to improve its processes to sustain accurate and timely financial reporting, according to Alberta’s auditor general.

“Olds College has processes to prepare financial statements promptly after year-end, however we observe where certain accounting and disclosure areas should be improved. Not doing so would increase the risk the college would not sustain preparing accurate financial reporting in the future,” Doug Wylie said in his recently released post-secondary institutions report.

Four of the 20 institutions examined in the report, including Olds College, have already implemented previous recommendations for improvement, including Olds College improving access controls to its information systems.

In 2016, the department recommended that the college strengthen its information systems-access controls, including “promptly removing system-access privileges when staff or contractors leave the college” and “discontinue the practice of leaving accounts open for email access after staff are terminated.”

The 2019 report, the department said, “While we have concluded that management made significant improvement to the process, the college still has the opportunity to improve the process further.

“We observed that while user access was removed relatively shortly after termination in our sample, the college’s documented process does not specify a timeline for removal. Best practice would be consistently remove use access immediately.”

A call to Olds College seeking comment was not immediately returned.

The report saw the department evaluate key indicators for financial processes and internal controls, including the quality of financial statements, the time it took management to prepare complete and accurate year-end financial statements, the number, and age and nature of current outstanding recommendations.

“Effective control environments include clear policies, well-designed processes and controls to implement and monitor compliance with policies, and secure information systems,” he said in the report.

“Such control environments help provide timely, accurate financial and non-financial information to manage and govern the institution. Recommendations not implemented promptly erode the effectiveness of the institution’s control environment.

“Weak control environments impact the quality of management and the board of governors’ decision-making and can result in an institution not achieving its goals by operating in a cost-effective manner and managing operating risks.”