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New audit of Alabama State coming soon

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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and other members of the ASU Board of Trustees meet Friday morning. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and other members of the ASU Board of Trustees meet Friday morning.
ASU President Dr. Joseph Silver sits in a side chair and listens to the meeting inside the boardroom Friday morning. ASU President Dr. Joseph Silver sits in a side chair and listens to the meeting inside the boardroom Friday morning.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The Alabama State Board of Trustees, led by Gov. Robert Bentley, approved a new audit of the university's finances at Friday's board meeting.

The university has audits conducted each year as a matter of policy, but the new audit has the potential to be vastly different.

"We're going to have to figure out the scope of it all," said Freddie Gallot, Alabama State's Vice President of Business and Finance.

Trustees unanimously approved a proposal for an audit toward the end of the meeting.

Gov. Bentley said he had met with board members, faculty, students, as well as Board Chair Elton Dean and President Joseph Silver before the meeting.

"This is the best thing to," said Board Chair Elton Dean. "If there's something out there we really need to know, our students, our faculty, the community really needs to know."

The firm of Warren Averett Wilson Price will conduct the independent audit. Alabama State has employed the same firm for each of its audits from 2008 to 2009.

The 2008 audit may have been cause for change. A different firm, Banks, Finley, White & Co. conducted the 2008 review and came back with several observations that it deemed as concerns. Those included the lack of documentation with some contracts, the automatic renewal of contracts, as well as documenting some payments to consultants as "vendors" which the firm characterized as "incorrect."

President Joseph Silver raised his own questions about the nature of numerous contracts the university had with some consultants and was later placed on administrative leave.

Alabama State University initiated a follow-up to the 2008 audit with a new report from Wilson Price, which is now under the name of Warren Averett Wilson Price. Wilson Price concluded that the findings of the initial auditor, Banks, Finley, White & Co. "had merit."

From 2009 to 2011, none of Alabama State's audits came back with issues relating to consulting contracts.

Gov. Bentley has wide-ranging legal authority as president of the Alabama State Board of Trustees. According to state statutes, the governor could ask for any information and members and administrators are obligated to provide it to him. Bentley's administration worked on the terms of the audit after Friday's board meeting.

"The students, faculty, staff and alumni of Alabama State University, and all of the people of this state deserve transparency in everything that we do," the governor said in a prepared statement at the meeting. He did not answer questions from members of the press after the meeting concluded.

It is possible that the governor could authorize a wide-ranging, very deep analysis of ASU's finances. He could even authorize that a forensic accountant be dispatched to investigate the allegations of inappropriate dealings by President Silver.

Silver said in an exclusive interview earlier in the week that, "It may take a forensic accountant" to figure out where funds have been distributed by Alabama State administrators.

When asked if he was worried about the new audit, Freddie Gallot, ASU's VP of Business and Finance said, "No, there's nothing there."

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