Audit Office raps Ulster over credit card scheme

March 24, 2000

A corporate credit card scheme for senior staff at the University of Ulster has been severely criticised by the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

It said there had been a "surprising degree of laxity" in monitoring the expense accounts of staff allowed to use the cards on trips abroad.

The auditor general was checking whether concerns first raised in 1996 had been dealt with. The Northern Ireland Department of Education said the fact that the university had failed to take effective action since then was "extremely disturbing".

But the university said that it was satisfied that procedures and controls had been improved and that there had never been any misappropriation of funds.

Audit officials examined 28 sample transactions. Sixteen were made without any of the required documentation, including one bill of Pounds 2,823. Payments included subscription to an air miles scheme for two senior officers, even though they had not been authorised to join.

One officer had twice bought computer equipment at an airport shop in contravention of university rules. Transactions were also made for hire cars between the various campuses of the university.

"The results of this sample suggest the scheme was being operated with a surprising degree of laxity, both by the users and the university administration," the report said. However, it said the university had undertaken to carry out a review of the procedures.

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