Auditor to Whidbey General: Improve payroll oversight

The Washington State Auditor's Office has advised Coupeville-based Whidbey General Hospital it needs to improve payroll oversight, according to a Whidbey News-Times report.

The guidance came in a letter dated Jan. 20 related to internal controls over payroll. In the letter, the auditor's office advised Whidbey General officials they still need to fix two "deficiencies" with payroll uncovered during a 2012 audit, according to the report.

The auditor's office said employees and supervisors did not always sign off on time cards before they were processed, and four employees had more access to the payroll and human resource services than were necessary for their positions, according to the Whidbey News-Times. The audit, which covered Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec., 31, 2012, found these issues resulted in one overpayment of $173,250 after an employee was mistakenly paid for 250 days of work instead of 2.5 days, according to the report.

Although the hospital still needs to fix these two "deficiencies" with payroll uncovered by the 2012 audit, Andy Asbjornsen, an audit manager for the state, noted in the report that most of the issues identified in the 2012 audit, which covered payroll, cash receipting, credit card disbursements and billing adjustments, were fixed and hospital personnel were working cooperatively to correct the problem.

As a result of the audit, the hospital has taken numerous actions to strengthen and enhance internal payroll department controls. Specifically, the hospital made efforts to redefine and clarify the roles of payroll and human services employees, and created an audit trail report to identify any instance where proper payroll approval "may be lacking," Whidbey General CFO Ron Telles said, according to the report.

"Although we are pleased with progress made in implementing payroll safeguards, we must make further improvements," he added. "We are always working to strengthen the monitoring and oversight of our financial systems. We are addressing concerns, and have implemented staff training, including additional training for managers on payroll procedures and protections."

The most recent audit report for the hospital, covering Jan. 1, 2013, through Dec. 31, 2014, found in most areas audited, Whidbey General complied with applicable requirements and provided adequate safeguarding of public resources.



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