Deily: ‘Let your conscience be your guide’
Internal Audit Department gets top marks on and off Grounds
By Rebecca Pace Arrington
Photo by Dan Addison
| “Impressive” is how Georgia Willis (right), Board of Visitors member and chair of the Audit Committee, describes the work of U.Va. audits director Barbara Deily (left) and her staff. The department completed 95 percent of its audit schedule this year — the best ever in 22 years, received the highest rating at its most recent external review and has an 87 percent satisfaction rate from its U.Va. customers.
Ask University budget managers whtat phone call they fear most, and even though they run fiscally sound units, they’ll likely say a call from the Internal Audit Department.
But this is a fear that Barbara Deily, director of audits, is successfully dispelling — so much so that departments are now calling her and asking to be audited. Her staff has earned a reputation for fairness, and for leaving units better than when they started.
Jonathan Kates, executive director of the University Bookstore, for example, often calls to bounce ideas off Deily about the feasibility of business practices he’s considering. “We do have to be the financial police sometimes,” Deily said, “but I much prefer that people look to us as a resource for systems development or new processes.”
So when should departments expect the call?
Audits can originate from random selection, and a department could be audited individually or as part of a systemwide audit, Deily said. But risk assessment typically determines which and when departments get audited. The payroll and accounts payable departments, for instance, are audited every other year because what they do affects every other department from a financial standpoint, she said, noting, “All organizations want to make sure these departments are operating well.”
The audit department also conducts annual inventories of the U.Va. Bookstore and the Health System’s pharmacy and storerooms, as well as yearly reviews of the athletics department’s game settlements and NCAA audits.
Deily and her staff of 18 — one administrative assistant and 17 auditors — prioritize their audit schedule based on their own judgment, trends in higher education and directives from the Board of Visitors and U.Va.’s top administration.
“A vice president might want an area looked at before a new hire comes in, or he or she might feel an audit is necessary due to a new area coming under his or her jurisdiction,” Deily said. Higher-than-normal employee turnover, complaints and special projects, such as compliance with newly implemented state and federal mandates, also are reasons audits are conducted.
Deily said that her office gets about 15 to 20 calls from the University’s abuse hotline per year and also gets direct calls to her office from individuals reporting abuse. “Time-keeping is the No. 1 abuse reported,” she said, followed by abuse of resources, such as an employee downloading pornography from an Internet site onto a state-owned computer or a state truck being used by an employee to move his or her home furnishings.
Fraud-related issues make up only 5 percent to 10 percent of the Internal Audit Department’s work, Deily said. Fifteen percent involves special projects, and 75 percent are scheduled audits and consulting, she said.
“We offer a third set of eyes and ears to provide departments with advice on organizational structure, new processes and documents,” Deily said. “We also try to find problems early on before they become a news story and cause heartache for the University.”
Deily, who has worked here for 22 years, says her work never gets boring, even when the same department is audited again and again. The types of Parking & Transportation audits, for example, are different from one audit to the next. One time might involve an audit of its bus maintenance schedule; the next time might involve assessing its registration system, she said.
Eventually every department gets the call, even the audit department.
An external quality assurance review of U.Va.’s Internal Audit Department is required every five years to make sure its practices are in full compliance with standards set by the Institute of Internal Auditors. In August 2004, a review found U.Va.’s department to be in full compliance, the top rating available.
“Our audits get great marks,” Georgia Willis, chair of the Board of Visitors’ Audit Committee, said at a recent board meeting. “That’s not by accident. Lots of hard, good work goes into this” by Deily and her staff.
In addition to getting the highest external rating, Deily’s office also has received an 87 percent satisfaction rate from departments with which it has worked in conducting audits. This rate is “impressive,” noted Willis, who has been in an audit environment for more than 20 years.
Deily, who reports to the board, to U.Va. President John T. Casteen III, and, day-to-day, to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Leonard W. Sandridge, also sets goals for her department in meeting its audit schedule. Factoring in the unexpected, Deily said she and her staff strive to complete 85 percent of the audit schedule in a fiscal year. This year, however, “we accomplished 95 percent … the best ever in 22 years.”
Deily is very proud of her staff. But is this “great group” a band of Type A personalities, as one might imagine?
“No,” Deily said. “To be an auditor, you have to be creative. You have to think like a criminal but not act like one. You have to be able to see the big picture with only a few pieces of the puzzle to work with.”
Deily never planned to be an auditor. With the intention of becoming a lawyer, she earned a bachelor’s in accounting from Penn State. But she never made it to law school. After college, she joined her parents in Charlottesville, answered an ad for a position at U.Va. and was hired as an internal auditor. While climbing the audit department career ladder,
Deily also earned her master’s of accounting here.
Two-plus decades later, Deily has come to be known as the “conscience of the University,” a title given to her by Louise Dudley, former assistant vice president for University Relations. Deily said she isn’t sure if she deserves such a title, but shared that she works and lives by a similar motto: “Let your conscience be your guide.” That would explain the Jiminy Cricket pin she wears everyday, a gift from one of her staff members.
How one auditor lets her hair down
When Barbara Deily is off the clock, she spends her time running and lifting weights several days a week. She also enjoys horseback riding, spending time with her 97-year-old grandmother, her 4-year-old shepherd mix, Anja, and making her own cards and scrapbooks.
Given her love for travel, she has lots to include in her scrapbooks.
“I try to go to a new country every other year,” Deily said.
Stamps in her passport include Egypt, China, Greece and Kenya twice.
In one Kenyan hotel, there were hippos eating grass in the front yard and bars on the windows. “You felt like you were the zoo animal,” she said. She also saw elephants, lions and one-day-old cheetahs in the wild there. “It was hard not to [want to] take one home,” she said of the cubs. That is, until she envisioned her shredded furniture.
No place is too far off the beaten path for Deily. Well, almost nowhere. Her only rule is that she doesn’t go anywhere cold. Next stop: the Galapagos Islands and Peru.
Five types of U.Va. audits
There are five types of audits that the University’s Internal Audit Department performs.
Compliance audits are performed to determine the degree to which a department is adhering to laws, regulations, policies and procedures of the University, the state, federal government and other regulatory agencies.
Financial audits address issues of accounting and reporting of financial transactions. The purpose of this type of audit is to verify that a unit’s financial activity is accurately reflected in various financial reports. Barbara Deily, U.Va.’s director of audits, noted that the state’s auditor handles most of the University’s financial audits and that her department supports this effort through its annual audits of inventories and biannual audits of accounts payable and payroll. “Our efforts dovetail and complement the state’s audits,” she said.
Information system audits review and analyze automated systems that are either fully operational or in developmental stages to ensure that proper controls are in place.
Investigative audits are initiated as a result of calls made to the Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline and reports of fraud reported to the Internal Audit Department or the University Police. Should you suspect fraud, waste or abuse, call 924-4110 or 1-800-723-1615. The calls can be made anonymously and are not traceable.
Operational audits review the use of resources available to a unit to determine if management’s objectives and goals are being met in the most effective manner.
For more about the IAD, visit its Web site at www.virginia.edu/audit/.