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This report compiles the status of recommendations from our 2019 financial statement audits of post-secondary institutions. It also includes a report card on each institution’s internal controls over financial reporting with comparative assessments from our 2018 and 2017 audits.

Preparation of Financial Statements

We issued unqualified audit opinions on the 2019 financial statements of 20 post-secondary institutions.

The majority of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions we audit are able to prepare accurate financial reporting promptly after year-end.

Keyano College has shown improvement as management was able to prepare accurate financial statements much earlier than the past few years. We agree with management’s assessment that while accurate financial statements were prepared this year, the underlying processes to sustain prompt preparation of accurate financial reporting still requires further improvement. College management and the board have demonstrated a focused, firm commitment to building sustainable effective annual financial reporting processes.

Olds College has designed processes to prepare accurate financial statements promptly after year-end. However, we made observations to management on where supporting evidence for certain accounting and disclosure areas should be improved. Not doing so would increase the risk the college would not sustain preparing accurate financial reporting in the future.

In 2018 and 2017 we observed opportunities for process improvement at the University of Lethbridge. As the result of changes made by management as overseen by the board of governors, we conclude the university has adequate financial reporting processes which appear sustainable into the future.

Outstanding Recommendations

We issued a new recommendation to Grande Prairie Regional College to improve internal controls over its information technology environment, and recommendations to Alberta University of the Arts, Keyano College, Lakeland College, Medicine Hat College, Olds College, and Portage College to implement processes for testing and monitoring the effectiveness of their internal controls. Institutions should regularly monitor and test their financial reporting processes and internal controls annually to ensure they are operating as expected and sustain their ability to prepare accurate financial statements promptly after year-end.

The following institutions implemented recommendations during the year:

  • Alberta University of the Arts—Consistently Enforce Purchasing Procedures
  • Athabasca University—Improve Procedures to Monitor and Report Access and Security Violations
  • Northern Lakes College—Promptly Remove System User Access of Terminated Employees
  • Olds College—Improve Access Controls to Information Systems

MacEwan University and the University of Calgary continue to work on the implementation of process improvements related to their prior-year outstanding recommendations. We are currently planning our followup audit work on our prior recommendation to SAIT.

Ten institutions have outstanding recommendations. Of the 12 outstanding recommendations, we reported two in October 2016 or earlier.

For the first time since issuing our annual report card on post-secondary institutions, Athabasca University has no outstanding recommendations.