The UW is subject to financial audits, including those performed by internal, external, state and federal audit offices. This page describes the audit process and other compliance issues, including ethics laws and public records requests.
UW Department of Audits
- Engages in audits, investigations and advisory services. The focus is to assist schools and colleges in understanding financial, operational, strategic and compliance risks and exposures.
- Performs audits to validate internal controls, adherence to UW policy and procedures as well as state laws.
- Acts as audit liaison with the external, state and federal auditors. All initial contacts with external auditors should be arranged through the University's Department of Audits.
- Assists schools and colleges to meet compliance requirements and to experience successful external, state and federal audits.
- Provides oversight responsibilities, and seeks to improve the University's control, risk management, and governance processes.
- Investigates complaints and allegations of dishonest or fraudulent acts or misuse of University resources as well as noncompliance with federal and state laws and regulations and University policies.
- The Department of Audits website has additional resources on managing an audit, including working effectively with the auditors.
The scope of the annual external audit is the consolidated financial statements of all UW entities, which includes the University, UW Physicians, UW Physicians Network, UW Alumni Association, and seven real estate entities. There are multiple departmental audits as well, including Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) , Financial Management, Parking, the Metropolitan Tract and Housing & Food Services.
Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) auditors perform an annual audit at the UW. Typically they will choose a variety of departments and topics (cash handling, travel, procurement cards, etc). The UW Department of Audits works closely with departments and the State Auditors during the state audit procedures.
The UW's Federal cognizant agency is Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Grants and contracts are subject to audit by DHHS, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and other government granting agencies. UW receives the second largest amount of federal grant and contract funding among research universities, after Johns Hopkins, and thus is subject to frequent federal audit.
Washington State Ethics Law
All state employees, including employees of the University of Washington, are bound by the State Ethics in Public Service Act, RCW 42.52. This Act, commonly known as the ethics law, generally addresses financial conflicts of interest, improper use of state resources for personal gain, compensation for outside activities without notification and approval, and acceptance of gifts. The Attorney General's Office webpage on State Ethics in Public Service provides an overview and links to other websites of interest.
- Records Management Services manages and oversees University compliance with state and federal laws and regulations relating to the preservation and destruction of electronic and paper information, including research and financial documents.
- Records Management Services is the legal authority for determining how long electronic and paper records and information must be retained.
- It is responsible for establishing standards which relate to University business requirements and needs and ensure the legal legitimacy of University record-keeping systems.
WA State Sales Tax
- The University of Washington is subject to sales tax for most purchases of goods and services. A majority of Washington State revenue derives from sales tax.
- There are two major sales tax exemptions: for qualifying machinery and equipment purchase, and for costs associated with the construction of "high technology" buildings or projects.
- Use tax vs. Sales tax: Vendors located out-of-state with no direct presence in Washington State are not required to charge or collect sales tax. However, if items or services in question are obtained in Washington State and would otherwise be subject to tax, the University pays an equivalent tax on those purchases as required by WAC 458-20-178.
Public Records Requests
The University is subject to frequent Public Records Requests according to Washington State laws (the Public Records Act, and the Open Public Meeting Act). The staff of the Office of Public Records and Open Meetings oversees the University's compliance with these laws. They inform departments when documents, including financial documents, emails or departmental communications are requested. Compliance with these requests is required. The Office of Public Records works with a department to ensure that the public records request is fulfilled.