Today, the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) released a report detailing its evaluation of the relationships between University of Wisconsin System (UWS) institutions and affiliated foundations.  LAB reviewed a ten-year time period, and found the financial transactions between UW institutions and foundations to be appropriate, consistent with the UW System’s review issued in October 2017.  The report also confirms the UW System and Board of Regents established appropriate standards for campus relationships with foundations.

“The proactive steps we announced last spring are a step in the right direction in providing additional accountability and transparency in the UW System’s relationships with its fundraising and real estate foundations,” said UW System President Ray Cross.  “While we have made significant progress, we appreciate the feedback from LAB in assisting us in those efforts.  We continually strive to ensure the ongoing integrity, efficiency, and transparency of these organizations.”

The LAB’s nearly year-long evaluation of foundation transactions took place between March 2017 and February 2018.  They reviewed payments between fiscal years (FY) 2007-08 through FY2016-17.  LAB’s audit does include FY2017, which ended on June 30, 2017.  The new requirements and standards governing foundation relationships were in the process of being implemented as noted below:

  • UW System President Cross issued a Foundation Principles, Best Practices, and Requirements document to UW campuses in April 2017. Institutions were required to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with their primary affiliated foundation by November 2017 that incorporated the provisions outlined.  (Note:  UW-Oshkosh was excluded from this requirement due to pending litigation.)
  • In June 2017, the Board of Regents approved the UW System’s Office of Internal Audit Fiscal 2018 Audit Plan. This will include an audit of financial transactions with foundations, and will measure compliance against the newly established foundation principles and guidelines.  These findings will be reported to the Board of Regents this fall. This internal audit will address LAB’s concerns about compliance with newly adopted policies, and enable the Board of Regents to refine internal policies and procedures, as needed.
  • In addition, in December 2017, the Board of Regents codified these new accountability measures in Regent Policy Document 21-9. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that UW institutions and their respective primary fundraising foundations and any real estate foundations operate effectively and responsibly, consistent with the reasonable expectations of both public and private interests, on behalf of UW System and its institutions.

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Media Contact

Stephanie Marquis UW System (608) 263-1700