Clark files hindered financial audit

Collins Barrow report couldn’t provide any assurance on finances thanks to inaccurate pub records

According to a report written by accounting firm Collins Barrow, questions of inaccuracy in bookkeeping prevented the firm from completing the financial review of Clark Hall Pub commissioned by the Engineering Society.

In a report addressed to EngSoc President Charlie Scott, obtained by the Journal, the accountants state that “… in our initial meeting we determined that we would not be able to provide any assurance on the financial statements because the internal control recommendations that were made by another accountant in 2002-03 had not been implemented, and there was some questions about the accuracy of the data input into the Clark Hall financial statement.”

The report also cites issues of inexperienced staff and a disorganized and decentralized accounting system as possible sources of mistakes.

The report recommends EngSoc use a centralized bookkeeping system. It also suggests EngSoc hire a “long-term, qualified bookkeeper.”

It notes that the pub’s account information, including its bank access card number and password, appear in the pub’s “Transition Report 2007.”

Collins Barrow has not closed the review, and Scott said he doesn’t know when that will happen.

Chris Hannon, the pub’s bar manager in 2006-07, said business manager Lindsay Lackner always knew exactly how the pub stood financially and where to find her records. He said all records were kept in a filing cabinet in the office.

Matt McLelland, the pub’s entertainment manager in 2006-07, agreed.

“We always knew exactly, to the cent,” he said.

Lackner changed the way the books were kept due to disorganization of the previous years’ records but Hannon couldn’t say what the specific changes were.

Hannon said he doesn’t know how many people had access to the pub’s account information but suggested the number was very small. There was no confidential information such as account numbers or passwords in his manual, he said, adding that information had to be passed on somehow to those who needed it. He said transition manuals were kept in the pub office.

Scott said EngSoc will consider all the recommendations made in the report. Several suggestions are things EngSoc has been considering anyway, he said.

“I know the Engineering Society has been thinking about getting a permanent staff for over a year. The question is always how we’re going to finance that.”

He estimated the changes can be made in about one year. He said he also hopes the recommendations will help improve more than just Clark Hall Pub.

“The benefit of this report is, yes, this report was done for Clark, but we can also apply it to the finances of our other services.” He said the executive hopes to implement as many changes as possible before the end of its term. He hopes strong transitioning will allow the next executive to continue to work to implement the recommendations, he said.

“With this year, we’re becoming more aware of the things that need to be fixed and that’s a message we’re pushing forward.”

Director of Residence and Hospitality Bruce Griffiths said he was prepared for the report’s results.

“I knew very early on that they probably didn’t have the records they needed.” He said a permanent staff member could not only help remedy the current situation but also prevent it from happening again.

“They need to have infrastructure but a professional manager would monitor that infrastructure.”

Griffiths said he wants management to look at the amount of alcohol served at Ritual but it won’t be a deciding factor in whether the pub is allowed to use the University’s liquor licence.

“I almost think there needs to be a new thinking about what Ritual is.”

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