2 different stories in forensic audit of ASU finances - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

2 different stories in forensic audit of ASU finances

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Is Alabama State University cooperating fully with a state-ordered financial audit? Governor Robert Bentley says the price of the audit is going up because information is being held back, primarily by attorneys.

The governor ordered the audit earlier in the year after a  former university president raised questions about school contracts. Dr. Joseph Silver and the University ultimately parted ways, but he never gave any proof of his allegations.

Now, ASU's interim president, Dr. William Harris, is responding.

It's difficult to tell if tempers are beginning to get rise, but it's clear that there are two different stories. One from the governor, the other from ASU.

ASU officials say the audits have taken up about 90% of its financial office's time since the start of the year, all in an effort to cooperate fully with the state's investigation into its finances.

"We have taken no step whatever to deny access to any information that was requested," says Dr. Harris. "We have not only not denied, but delay. We have provided forthwith all of the information that has been requested of us. Literally millions of pages of documentation," he adds.

But in recent comments the governor says that's not the case, saying ASU's hired legal counsel, at the cost of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, have attempted to stonewall the forensic audit which is now in the middle of its ninth month.

"It's not necessarily that the people in the administration have not turned over the information but the lawyers that they have hired have not turned over all of the information," Governor Bentley says. "So it really goes back to their legal team."

The state's contract review board recently approved more funds for the forensic audit, bringing the possible final total to over a half a million dollars.

There's a new issue facing ASU in regard to the audits. If it doesn't publish its 2012 audit, according to President Harris, then it could mean some accreditation issues and possible federal funding issues down the road.

There is no telling when the audit will be complete though the original contract set a maximum cost of a half million dollars. So far, more that $350,000 has been spent.

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