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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published August 10 2010

Internal auditor at NDSU to get ethics duties

North Dakota State University has expanded the role of its internal auditor to promote a culture of ethical behavior.

President Dean Bresciani announced Monday he is redefining the mission for the newly named Office of Ethics, Compliance and Audit to give it a more proactive role.

“We really need to build a culture where we encourage and look for compliance as the university grows and develops,” Bresciani said.

The change is in part a response to a performance audit released last spring that found policy violations with the NDSU president’s house and several other building projects.

It’s also updating the systems that may have worked well for NDSU 10 or 15 years ago but are not suited for the university today, Bresciani said.

NDSU has one internal auditor, Eric Miller, who reports to a committee of the state Board of Higher Education.

That was a change made earlier this year by the board to ensure the independence of the internal auditor.

Miller said the newly defined mission for his office should help rebuild the trust of NDSU stakeholders.

“What this change does is give a mandate for proactively working with the campus to ensure that we’re considering ethical thought throughout our decision-making,” said Miller, who has worked for NDSU since June 2009.

At this point, no additional staffing is being added.

Miller said he would like to see more staff at some point but first wants to analyze what type of staffing is needed.

Gordy Smith, audit manager with the Office of the State Auditor, said the changes announced Monday are a step in the right direction.

Setting the right “tone at the top” is crucial, Smith said.

“If they’re emphasizing that ethical behavior is expected and unethical behavior won’t be tolerated, that means a lot coming from the boss,” Smith said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590