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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Audit: An empowering experience

by Salim Alani


Far from being the stress-inducing experience portrayed in movies and on television, the process of an audit, as practiced by most modern accounting and consulting firms, is a broad-ranging, proactive look at the way a business is run.

And that's the model we follow at the Office of University Audit. As our mission statement says, "We exist to provide audit and advisory services to the University community by assessing risks, analyzing controls, and ensuring that business practices are effective, efficient, and compliant with University and regulatory policies."

To be considered successful, an audit requires much more than a snapshot or after-the-fact look at business operations. The goal of a modern audit is to look at four key areas of a business unit: the organization and culture; people and skills; policies and procedures; and systems and technology.

Rather than looking solely at the mechanics of existing processes, we strive to make the University community aware of the best management practices and internal control processes. This requires active participation at all employment levels. Each employee has a stake in the success of the University.

Our goal is to facilitate your understanding of--and management of--the risks facing your business. While risks can never be totally eliminated, identified risks must be managed. And that means making decisions: a unit's leadership team may determine a certain level of risk is acceptable; they may try to transfer the risk; or they may decide to mitigate the risk through internal control processes and procedures.

Members of our team--managers Michael Ritz, John Killackey, and Patrick Didas, and auditors Sandra Dano, Tammy Pascarella, and Eileen Beiter--have diverse technical backgrounds. They are trained to examine the business operations of University units in a way that empowers individual employees to do their jobs better and to identify and make decisions regarding risks relevant to their respective University units.

For more information about the Office of University Audit, or to find out more about how we may assist you, feel free to contact me at x5-2291 or visit our Web site at "


Salim Alani is director of the Office of University Audit.

This column is one of an occasional series on administrative issues at the University.

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