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State may audit Student Affairs

State auditors may magnify their scrutiny of the University’s Division of Student Affairs in response a USF employee’s report of misspending in the department, an official with Florida’s auditing office said Thursday.

The Florida Auditor General’s Office is evaluating whether they can incorporate a detailed look into Student Affair’s finances as part of an annual University-wide audit currently underway, said Ted Sauerbeck, supervisor for local government audits in the state auditing office.

“We’re taking this seriously,” Sauerbeck said.

Allegations of Student Affair’s misspending attracted the attention of the University last week when Associate VP of Student Affairs James Dragna accused his boss, Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall, of misallocating funds and mistreating employees in an e-mail sent Oct. 3 to 80 University officials including President Judy Genshaft.

Sauberbeck said he had recently met with a USF employee who expressed concerns about how money was being handled in Student Affairs. He would not give the employee’s name, saying the individual had asked to remain anonymous.

Dragna said he was not the employee with whom Sauerbeck met.

“I’ve not contacted the state system, nor has the state system contacted me,” Dragna said. “The story has become a lot larger than mine at this point.”

The State Auditor General’s Office is currently conducting its annual audit of the University for the 2006-2007 fiscal year. The findings of any additional auditing of Student Affairs would be included in that report, which should be finished in November or December, Sauerbeck said.

If his office decides against additional investigation, the state will supply USF with the information provided by the employee and monitor the University’s follow-up investigation, Sauerbeck added.

The University’s Office of Audit and Compliance is currently auditing Student Affairs in response to Dragna’s e-mail.

A preliminary review of Student Affairs’ spending by the University, conducted the Office of Executive Vice President Carl Carlucci after Dragna’s e-mail was sent, uncovered no evidence of financial misconduct, said USF spokesman Ken Gulette Wednesday.

“Dr. Meningall has welcomed the investigations,” Gulette said.

Before deciding on a course of action, state auditors must consider the manpower the additional investigating would require and whether the employee’s reports of misspending may be related to an area already examined in the University-wide audit, Sauerbeck said.

Due to manpower and time restrictions, the annual audit doesn’t look into the financial statements of every area of the University, but focuses on those departments that manage the most money, have had past problems or have received minimal scrutiny in recent years, Sauerbeck said.

“We can’t look at every aspect,” he said. “The University is just too massive.”

David Guidi can be reached at (813) 974-188 or oracleguidi@gmail.com.