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Mind Those Reports! Purdue Shares Strategies On Heels of Successful Audit

In April, three-and-a-half years after Purdue University first received a letter notifying it that the National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General (OIG) would be conducting an audit, the process, which included resolution of findings by NSF, came to an end.

While Purdue “didn’t have a party,” according to Ken Sandel, who oversaw Purdue’s audit and resolution process, one perhaps seems justified. Out of a universe of $238 million in costs claimed among approximately 494,000 transactions involving 892 individual NSF awards, OIG auditors picked a sample of 252 transactions to examine in detail.

Ultimately, OIG questioned just 13, totaling $91,281, but NSF allowed all but $39,728. These stemmed from four awards during the audit period, which spanned April 1, 2012, through March 31, 2015.

Sandel, Purdue’s senior director of sponsored program services and its authorized organization representative, shared with RRC Purdue’s experiences, including several strategies he said helped produce a successful outcome—particularly important because NSF is the largest sponsor of research at Purdue.

It is worth noting that Purdue had disputed all the costs questioned by the auditors and decided, through the resolution process, to repay the $39,728.

“Our final conclusion and communication to NSF was that we understood their rationale, but given the large amount of time already invested in the audit…and given the relatively small amount of funding in question, we decided not to pursue additional justification [or] provide additional rationale” but would instead reimburse NSF, Sandel explained to RRC. Purdue released the funds to NSF on June 21.

Although Sandel said he doesn’t think an audit resolution is “something you really celebrate,” he did acknowledge “a sense of satisfaction that you are being a good steward of the government’s money.”

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