New KSU president seeks forensic audit after ‘improper processes,’ ‘negligence’

Kentucky State University President Christopher Brown, who was hired in March, has asked for a forensic audit.
Kentucky State University President Christopher Brown, who was hired in March, has asked for a forensic audit. KSU

Representatives of the Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts will visit Kentucky State University next week, KSU President M. Christopher Brown II told The State Journal. They are coming at Brown’s invitation.

In a letter to state Auditor Mike Harmon dated Sept. 6, Brown wrote that it was his “professional assessment that a forensic audit is in order to assist the university in establishing a clear baseline for improved efficiency in the stewardship of the Commonwealth’s resources.”

A forensic audit is typically used to detect fraud, whereas a standard audit is designed merely to provide reasonable assurance that finances are not misstated.

The university — which is currently seeking a new internal auditor — hasn’t had a permanent chief financial officer and a permanent president concurrently for about five years, Brown said. Since 2001, KSU has had 11 CFOs.

KSU also recently changed its external auditor to Crowe Horwath from Dean Dorton. Earlier this year, Dean Dorton found that the university again lacked internal controls over financial reporting in the accounting firm’s audit of KSU’s books for the 2015-16 academic year.

With a report due next year to accrediting agency Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Brown said, “You want to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row.”

“It’s good to have neutral eyes on it to make sure you’re using best practices,” he said.

The requested forensic audit will span the five years from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2017, and will include KSU athletics, auxiliary services, contracts and procurement, as well as expenses incurred by the board of regents and the office of the president, the letter says.

“Like all state agencies, state budget cuts have taken its toll on KSU,” the letter says. “Unlike other state agencies, KSU has spent the last several years attempting to correct years of improper processes, procedures, and in some instances, negligence.”

After a contentious and contested search process, the KSU Board of Regents voted 7-3 in March to hire Brown as its 15th president, even though he resigned from his last presidential job over financial improprieties.