(Bowers is the inspector general of the internal audit department at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. Coffey is the University’s chief of police.)
One fundamental concept behind the Certified Fraud Examiner designation is to combine the skills of a law enforcement officer with those of an auditor or accountant thereby achieving the perfect balance of expertise to investigate white-collar crime. A few years ago when the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola experienced budget and personnel restraints, we decided to create a partnership between our campus police and internal audit departments to alleviate some of the work load in the internal audit department. Once the partnership was in place, not only did we experience improved efficiency among personnel, but we also inadvertently created a more comprehensive environment to detect and deter fraud – all without additional expenses being incurred. The University now plans to continue this partnership as long as the need arises; we highly recommend other organizations to follow suit and reap the same benefits we have experienced here at UWF.
Why Partner Between Campus Police and Internal Auditors?
Who wants to work with police or internal auditors anyway, except other police and internal auditors, right? However, these two departments play similar roles in any organization. Both ensure compliance to laws, rules, policies, and procedures. Police have the ability to enforce legal compliance, while internal auditors can only recommend appropriate courses of action to managers.
Often a case begins as an administrative audit and then evidence shows it to be criminal (or vice-versa). What are you to do then? Under whose jurisdiction would the case fall – the police or the internal auditor?
This blurring of the lines of responsibility between the police and internal audit departments can be beneficial and even appealing to management. If these two entities work closely together on investigations, the resulting case – whether administrative or criminal – will have thorough expertise from two perspectives. That sounds like a good deal, especially if it does not cost the organization any more money.