SUMMARY OF: A Special Report on the University of Alaska, Unit Cost Analysis and Other Selected Issues, Part 2, November 15, 2005.

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 of the Alaska Statutes and a special request by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, we conducted a performance audit of the University of Alaska (UA) faculty and staff travel using fiscal year 2004 travel financial data. There were two main objectives of this audit, identified as University of Alaska, Unit Cost Analysis and Other Selected Issues, Part 2. The first objective was to review and evaluate travel by UA faculty and staff. Specifically, we were asked to determine if travel was necessary, or if the travel objectives could have been otherwise accomplished, through the use of audio/video conferencing technologies. The second objective was to determine whether travel arrangements had been made with an eye toward controlling costs.

University of Alaska, Unit Cost Analysis and Other Selected Issues, Part 1, issued in August 2005, presented the unit cost analysis and addressed other issues regarding housing and prior audit findings and recommendations. Part 3, which will be issued in the future, will address whether UA is maximizing the use of distance education technologies.

Report Conclusions

We concluded the following:

  • No significant opportunities found to avoid University travel through increased use of audio or video conferencing technologies.
  • With additional planning and advance airfare purchases, UA has an opportunity to recognize further cost savings.
  • An in-depth travel cost analysis can not be easily performed because UA’s financial software does not have a dedicated data field that is utilized to associate every travel transaction with a travel authorization number or a traveler’s name.
  • Travel reimbursements are generally accurate; however, a considerable number of travel authorizations and travel expense reports are not properly completed, nor adequately reviewed. Therefore, UA travel policies and procedures are not being followed; travelers are being under- and over-paid for travel reimbursements; and the accountability by travelers, supervisors, and reviewers may not always be at the highest level possible.

Findings and Recommendations

  1. UA’s controller should update, clarify, and enforce its travel policies and procedures to ensure that the highest level of accountability is achieved.