There are two approaches to help eliminate white-collar crime: prevention and detection. We believe the best approach is to prevent illegal and inappropriate acts from occurring in the first place.
As a UMass employee, you are responsible for ensuring departmental funds, property and equipment are safeguarded from loss. One important underlying concept that must be accepted is the reality that fraud is possible in your organization. If you do not believe fraud is possible, you will not identify it even if it is clearly evident. Very often fraud symptoms are viewed as administrative errors because individuals cannot conceive of the existence of fraud particularly in organizations where there is a longtime affiliation with co-workers.
The following procedures should be instituted to help reduce the risk of impropriety in your organization:
- Identify assets for which you have responsibility. Examples include department expenditures, supplies, personal computers, software, petty cash, and amounts collected as revenue.
- Identify the risk associated with safeguarding these assets. Ask yourself: (1) How could these assets be misused or improperly used? (2) If these assets were misused or misappropriated, how would I know? (3) What controls exists to prevent or detect inappropriate use or loss of assets? (4) What additional controls are necessary to ensure that assets are adequately protected from loss? and (5) Is the cost of additional controls reasonable in relation to the risk involved?
- Establish a positive control environment in your department. It is important to demonstrate control consciousness in your organization. A genuine interest and concern for internal control should be conveyed to all staff members.
- Ensure that an adequate system of internal control exists in your organization. The major tenets of an internal control system include: (1) separation of duties; (2) physical safeguards over assets; (3) proper documentation; (4) proper approvals; (5) adequate supervision; (6) physical inventories; and (7) independent validation of transaction accuracy.
- Ensure that all staff members are familiar with the University's Principals of Employee Conduct. Copies of the aforementioned policies should be issued to department members and questions should be addressed by department management.
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