Legislative Committee votes for extensive UW System audit - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Legislative Committee votes for extensive UW System audit

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MADISON (WKOW) -- University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly had to explain a $33 million error to state legislators Tuesday.     

Reilly admits he didn't even know about that sum being overpayed in health insurance and retirement benefits, until the Legislative Audit Bureau released a report on it earlier this month.

President Kevin Reilly tried his best to issue a mea culpa at Tuesday's hearing in front of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

"I am deeply troubled and embarrassed by the mistakes that were made and by the magnitude of those errors," Reilly told committee members. 

Reilly says the state Employee Trust Fund has helped UW recover all of the $17.5 million it overpayed in retirement benefits, but only about $2.4 of the $15.2 million the system overpayed in health insurance premiums.

Reilly hopes to get more of the money back, but admits no one at the UW ever alerted him to the problem.

"I would hear periodically about an overpayment problem here, an underpayment problem there...I did not realize the magnitude until we got to that point," said Reilly.  

It was an answer that didn't sit well with committee members.

"As somebody who represents the taxpayers and those students, at what point do the bells and whistles start going off that brings it to your attention?" asked Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette).

"You may, they may have more degrees than I do...a lot smarter than I am, but there still needs to be a commitment to the oversight and controls of our finances," Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) told Reilly.

Reilly says the problems lie in the administration of the HRS payroll system, which processes checks and benefits for over 79,000 UW System employees statewide.

"We want to ask an independent expert to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of HRS to validate those risks we have identified related to technology, policies, processes and people associated with HRS and to be sure that we have identified all significant risks," said Reilly.

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee members clearly believe that step won't be enough.  They unanimously voted to support a further, more complete audit of the UW System.

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