LA approves guidelines requiring COA clearance for all USG units

The Legislative Assembly (LA) unanimously approved a resolution mandating all University Student Government (USG) units to meet the term-end and year-end clearance requirements of the Commission on Audit (COA) in a session held last April 23. With the implementation of the new rule, the commission can make the submission of all financial statements mandatory, a guideline that had not been a strict requirement prior to the resolution. The new policies are set to take effect on Term 3 of Academic Year 2020-2021.

For accountability

EXCEL2021 LA Representative Katkat Ignacio explained that the resolution came after USG units had either failed to comply with or delayed the submission of important financial documents, a problem that she said had been “passed down to succeeding administrations amongst USG units.”

Chapter 4, Section 18.2 of the USG Administrative Code states that all financial statements produced by the USG should be submitted for approval to COA, who then passes these reports to the Office of the Executive Secretary for dissemination to the student body. However, not a single financial report had been published by the USG in the past academic year. 

COA Chairperson Aimee Gepte explained that COA auditors will still be giving an audit opinion based on the unit submissions with each opinion having a corresponding penalty as per the COA Manual. Ideally, each document is expected to have an unqualified opinion, meaning there are no changes required to the submissions.

Units whose submissions receive a qualified opinion will have their accounts frozen for five weeks, while those that are proclaimed adverse will have their accounts frozen for nine weeks. Those that COA gives a disclaimer opinion will have their accounts frozen nine weeks from the time of submission until the next term. 

Meanwhile, units that fail to comply with audit requirements may also be barred from conducting any activities—regardless of whether or not expenses would be incurred—in the succeeding term.

If the commission finds that fraud was possibly committed by a unit, the case will be passed to the Judiciary who will then conduct further investigation. 

Case-to-case basis

74TH ENG LA Representative Didi Rico pointed out that non-compliance of old officers may burden new officers if the penalties are carried over to their terms. To address this, the Majority Floor motioned to add a provision that requires COA to assess instances of non-compliance on a case-to-case basis.

Gepte clarified that COA would assume that new officers who are burdened with such penalties will coordinate with their predecessors to acquire the necessary documentation. However, the commission may consider justification letters if they are not able to contact the previous officers. An investigation may also be conducted in such cases where the non-compliance is attributable to a particular person or group within the unit.

By Helen Saudi

By Tia Mozelle Medalla

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