The Daily Iowan

Former UI staffer used university money to make personal purchases

The state Auditor’s Office released a report on July 19 identifying $57,000 in misspent funds by a former University of Iowa College of Dentistry staff member.

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The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Brooklyn Draisey, [email protected]

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A new report has found gross misspending of funds by a former staff member in the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, and it gave recommendations to strengthen controls over spending in the school.

The report, released by the Auditor’s Office on July 19, identified $57,313.36 of improper and unsupported spending using University Procurement Cards in the Department of Periodontics from Aug. 1, 2012, to Aug. 31, 2016. The investigation was requested by university officials concerned about reportedly inappropriate transactions made by former administrative specialist Amanda Shumaker, who died in 2016, approximately three weeks after being placed on administrative leave that August.

Shumaker’s “P-card” was used for $39,314.25 of the purchases, and another $13,583.01 was spent with the college director’s “P-card,” which Shumaker had access to. The purchases include clothing, shoes, accessories, cameras, computer equipment, and gift cards.

The report also found $4,416.10 of unsupported expenditures consisted of payments to vendors, but officials could not determine whether the payments were personal in nature or for department operations.

Hired in August 2012, Shumaker was responsible for buying books and equipment for the dental college, booking and paying travel expensive for school staff, and paying conference fees. Her P-card had a monthly credit limit of $10,000, and the director’s had a limit of $4,000.

Shumaker reportedly concealed her purchases by altering copies of invoices from previously purchased department goods, such as books and equipment, to match the amount she spent on personal items.

Shared Services, the department responsible for handling financial services for the college, first found a mismatch between Shumaker’s P-card invoice and details from the vendor during a routine review in July 2016. Officials alerted the Office of Internal Audit, which investigated and reportedly found more personal purchases disguised as department spending. Shumaker was then placed on paid administrative leave effective Aug. 1, 2016. She died soon after, on Aug. 20, 2016, at the age of 34.

“The university has implemented and continues to expand the use of the Shared Services Department to independently review and reconcile purchases made with university P-cards,” the report said.

The Iowa Auditor’s Office also reviewed procedures used by the Periodontics Department to process P-card charges and recommended ways to strengthen its control over P-card spending.

Since Shumaker made personal purchases with both her and someone else’s P-card and created records that didn’t match details from vendors, the report recommended procedures to provide supervisors with a way to verify the nature of purchases, retaining documentation for longer in the case of an audit, and restricting the use of other staff members’ P-cards.

The report also found a lack of inventory records and internal controls.

“University and department policies do not require maintaining an inventory or tagging equipment which individually cost less than $5,000 but is susceptible to loss,” the audit said.

To help with this, the report recommended creating an inventory report, updating it periodically, and comparing it with fixed asset records, as well as restricting access to the equipment and keeping records of when and why people went to the equipment-storage location.

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