An independent auditing firm has given its seal of approval to the University of Connecticut for fiscal prudence in managing construction spending for UCONN 2000 projects.
McGladrey LLP, a Chicago-based financial consulting firm, recently notified UConn that it found no problems with the University’s procedures for estimating project costs, maintaining records, allocating payments, and tracking budgets for the initiative in the 2012 fiscal year. The firm had reached a similarly positive conclusion for the 2011 fiscal year.
UCONN 2000 is a $2.3 billion, 20-year state investment that was launched in 1995 to overhaul the University’s aging and often deteriorating infrastructure by renovating and replacing outdated structures at all of its campuses.
“We feel the existing policies are well thought-out, are being followed, and provide a reasonable and strong degree of comfort that program costs are being managed and reviewed in a diligent manner,” said Mark Bloom, a partner at McGladrey and the auditor responsible for signing off on the review.
Bloom, who presented the audit to the UConn trustees, also said the University’s procedures for estimating costs, tracking expenditures, and other financial controls are what he called “the proper platform” for tracking major projects in the future.
The commendation of UCONN 2000’s fiscal management for 2012 comes at a critical time, as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the University are asking the Connecticut General Assembly to invest in the economic development initiative known as Next Generation Connecticut.
That $1.6 billion project would promote Connecticut’s job creation efforts and spur efforts for an innovation-based economy by revolutionizing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education at UConn. The proposal, which requires legislative approval, envisions new UConn STEM facilities, increased enrollment, additional faculty, added research initiatives, and synergies with other campuses and programs.
The new McGladrey audit’s findings on UCONN 2000 allocations underscore the University’s strong fiscal standards for administering such major initiatives, UConn officials say.
“Clearly we’re very pleased with this report,” UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence McHugh said of the audit, which was presented at the board’s Feb. 27 meeting. “It shows that the University is a highly responsible steward of this extremely important and complex long-term initiative, which has transformed UConn.”
The annual audits are required under Connecticut statutes to review completed projects and to go through estimated costs and changes for projects still under way.
State regulations require the University to hire a new auditor every five years to ensure that fresh eyes are looking at the figures. McGladrey, which was first hired in 2011, says in addition to doing the 2011 and 2012 audits, it looked over previous auditors’ reports and found them to be “very sound.”
“The endorsement of our UCONN 2000 financial practices from a respected outside entity attests to the care we put into these matters,” says Richard Gray, UConn’s executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer. “We have been, and will continue to be, dedicated and diligent when it comes to being good stewards of the funds entrusted to us.”
Read McGladrey LLP’s full report to the Board of Trustees here. The June 30, 2012 audit document is available here, and a document detailing agreed-upon procedures on UCONN 2000 Construction Expenditures here.