Records show shoddy accounting for ETSU concerts

Records show shoddy accounting for ETSU concerts

By: AP

JOHNSON CITY (AP) — Records from East Tennessee State University highlight a shoddy accounting system that allowed administrators to overdraw nearly $230,000 for concerts by Carrie Underwood and the GooGoo Dolls. The records, obtained this month by the Bristol Herald Courier through a Freedom of Information Act, don’t explain how the oversight occurred. The ramifications from the oversight could place severe limits on events for next year. University officials have said the mistake was caused by a chain of errors involving multiple departments, starting with an employee who “misread a (computer) screen.” David Collins, vice president for finance and administration, said he believed it “was a function of learning a new system. I don’t understand it either, how that happened.” According to the records, revenue coming into the special events fund is relatively constant because it’s based on student activity fees paid each semester. At the beginning of the 2007-08 school year, the fund had more than $26,000 and expected to get $400,000 in activities fees. However, the two concerts totaled about $862,000, the records show. That’s nearly 2 1/2 times greater than what the university spent on events the previous academic year. Collins said while the university can calculate generally how much revenue to expect, the fees don’t all come in at once. “Not everyone pays on one day,” he said. The account software should have automatically rejected expenses when revenues were not sufficient, but that feature was not enabled, he said. “Effective July 1, we will turn on that flag, which will kick anything out in the future,” Collins said. University officials immediately realized the overdrawn account could make the university look bad, according to e-mails obtained through the open records request. “This is worrisome,” Collins wrote to the executive assistant of the university president April 29, after the first media inquiry. “I see potential for some real negative publicity coming. You might want to give the President a heads-up.” Published in The Messenger 6.11.08

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