CHAPTER 7 CONTROL AND ACCOUNTING INFORMATION SYSTEMS - Solutions
CHAPTER 7 CONTROL AND ACCOUNTING INFORMATION SYSTEMS
7.1 Answer the following questions about the audit of Springer’s Lumber & Supply
a. What deficiencies existed in the internal environment at Springer’s?
b. Do you agree with the decision to settle with the Springers rather than to prosecute them for fraud and embezzlement? Why or why not?
c. Should the company have told Jason and Maria the results of the high-level audit? Why or why not?
7.2 Effective segregation of duties is sometimes not economically feasible in a small business. What internal control elements do you think can help compensate for this threat?
7.3 One function of the AIS is to provide adequate controls to ensure the safety of organizational assets, including data. However, many people view control procedures as “red tape.” They also believe that, instead of producing tangible benefits, business controls create resentment and loss of company morale. Discuss this position.
7.4 In recent years, Supersmurf’s external auditors have given clean opinions on its financial statements and favorable evaluations of its internal control systems. Discuss whether it is necessary for this corporation to take any further action to comply with the Sarbanes–Oxley Act.
7.5 When you go to a movie theater, you buy a prenumbered ticket from the cashier. This ticket is handed to another person at the entrance to the movie. What kinds of irregularities is the theater trying to prevent? What controls is it using to prevent these irregularities? What remaining risks or exposures can you identify?
7.6 Some restaurants use customer checks with prenumbered sequence codes. Each food server uses these checks to write up customer orders. Food servers are told not to destroy any customer checks; if a mistake is made, they are to void that check and write a new one. All voided checks are to be turned in to the manager daily. How does this policy help the restaurant control cash receipts?
7.7 Compare and contrast the following three frameworks: COBIT, COSO Integrated Control, and ERM.
7.8 Explain what an event is. Using the Internet as a resource, create a list of some of the many internal and external factors that COSO indicated could influence events and affect a company’s ability to implement its strategy and achieve its objectives.
7.9 Explain what is meant by objective setting and describe the four types of objectives used in ERM.
7.10 Discuss several ways that ERM processes can be continuously monitored and modified so that deficiencies are reported to management.
7.1 You are an audit supervisor assigned to a new client, Go-Go Corporation, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. You visited Go-Go’s corporate headquarters to become acquainted with key personnel and to conduct a preliminary review of the company’s accounting policies, controls, and systems. During this visit, the following events occurred:
- a. You met with Go-Go’s audit committee, which consists of the corporate controller, treasurer, financial vice president, and budget director.
- b. You recognized the treasurer as a former aide to Ernie Eggers, who was convicted of fraud several years ago.
- c. Management explained its plans to change accounting methods for depreciation from the accelerated to the straight-line method. Management implied that if your firm does not concur with this change, Go-Go will employ other auditors.
- d. You learned that the financial vice president manages a staff of five internal auditors.
- e. You noted that all management authority seems to reside with three brothers, who serve as chief executive officer, president, and financial vice president.
- f. You were told that the performance of division and department managers is evaluated on a subjective basis, because Go-Go’s management believes that formal performance evaluation procedures are counterproductive.
- g. You learned that the company has reported increases in earnings per share for each of the past 25 quarters; however, earnings during the current quarter have leveled off and may decline.
- h. You reviewed the company’s policy and procedures manual, which listed policies for dealing with customers, vendors, and employees.
- i. Your preliminary assessment is that the accounting systems are well designed and that they employ effective internal control procedures.
- j. Some employees complained that some managers occasionally contradict the instructions of other managers regarding proper data security procedures.
- k. After a careful review of the budget for data security enhancement projects, you feel the budget appears to be adequate.
- l. The enhanced network firewall project appeared to be on a very aggressive implementation schedule. The IT manager mentioned that even if he put all of his personnel on the project for the next five weeks, he still would not complete the project in time. The manager has mentioned this to company management, which seems unwilling to modify the schedule.
- m. Several new employees have had trouble completing some of their duties, and they do not appear to know who to ask for help.
- n. Go-Go’s strategy is to achieve consistent growth for its shareholders. However, its policy is not to invest in any project unless its payback period is no more than 48 months and yields an internal rate of return that exceeds its cost of capital by 3%.
- o. You observe that company purchasing agents wear clothing and exhibit other paraphernalia from major vendors. The purchasing department manager proudly displays a picture of himself holding a big fish on the deck of a luxury fishing boat that has the logo of a major Go-Go vendor painted on its wheelhouse.
7.2 Explain how the principle of separation of duties is violated in each of the following situations. Also, suggest one or more procedures to reduce the risk and exposure highlighted in each example.
a. A payroll clerk recorded a 40-hour workweek for an employee who had quit the previous week. He then prepared a paycheck for this employee, forged her signature, and cashed the check.
b. While opening the mail, a cashier set aside, and subsequently cashed, two checks payable to the company on account.
c. A cashier prepared a fictitious invoice from a company using his brother-in-law’s name. He wrote a check in payment of the invoice, which the brother-in-law later cashed.
d. An employee of the finishing department walked off with several parts from the storeroom and recorded the items in the inventory ledger as having been issued to the assembly department.
e. A cashier cashed a check from a customer in payment of an account receivable, pocketed the cash, and concealed the theft by properly posting the receipt to the customer’s account in the accounts receivable ledger
f. Several customers returned clothing purchases. Instead of putting the clothes into a return bin to be put back on the rack, a clerk put the clothing in a separate bin under some cleaning rags. After her shift, she transferred the clothes to a gym bag and took them home.
g. A receiving clerk noticed that four cases of MP3 players were included in a shipment when only three were ordered. The clerk put the extra case aside and took it home after his shift ended.
h. An insurance claims adjuster had check signing authority of up to $6,000. The adjuster created three businesses that billed the insurance company for work not performed on valid claims. The adjuster wrote and signed checks to pay for the invoices, none of which exceeded $6,000.
i. An accounts payable clerk recorded invoices received from a company that he and his wife owned and authorized their payment.
j. A cashier created false purchase return vouchers to hide his theft of several thousand dollars from his cash register.
k. A purchasing agent received a 10% kickback of the invoice amount for all purchases made from a specific vendor.
7.3 The following description represents the policies and procedures for agent expense reimbursements at Excel Insurance Company.
Agents submit a completed expense reimbursement form to their branch manager at the end of each week. The branch manager reviews the expense report to determine whether the claimed expenses are reimbursable based on the company’s expense reimbursement policy and reasonableness of amount. The company’s policymanual states that agents are to document any questionable expense item and that the branch manager must approve in advance expenditures exceeding $500.
- After the expenses are approved, the branch manager sends the expense report to the home office. There, accounting records the transaction, and cash disbursements prepares the expense reimbursement check. Cash disbursements sends the expense reimbursement checks to the branch manager, who distributes them to the agents.
- To receive cash advances for anticipated expenses, agents must complete a Cash Advance Approval form. The branch manager reviews and approves the Cash Advance Approval form and sends a copy to accounting and another to the agent. The agent submits the copy of the Cash Advance Approval form to the branch office cashier to obtain the cash advance.
- At the end of each month, internal audit at the home office reconciles the expense reimbursements. It adds the total dollar amounts on the expense reports from each branch, subtracts the sum of the dollar totals on each branch’s Cash Advance Approval form, and compares the net amount to the sum of the expense reimbursement checks issued to agents. Internal audit investigates any differences.
- Identify the internal control strengths and weaknesses in Excel’s expense reimbursement process. Look for authorization, recording, safeguarding, and reconciliation strengths and weaknesses.
7.3 The Gardner Company, a client of your firm, has come to you with the following problem. It has three clerical employees who must perform the following functions:
- a. Maintain the general ledger
- b. Maintain the accounts payable ledger
- c. Maintain the accounts receivable ledger
- d. Prepare checks for signature
- e. Maintain the cash disbursements journal
- f. Issue credits on returns and allowances
- g. Reconcile the bank account
- h. Handle and deposit cash receipts
Assuming equal abilities among the three employees, the company asks you to assign the eight functions to them to maximize internal control. Assume that these employees will perform no accounting functions other than the ones listed.
a. List four possible unsatisfactory pairings of the functions
b. State how you would distribute the functions among the three employees. Assume that with the exception of the nominal jobs of the bank reconciliation and the issuance of credits on returns and allowances, all functions require an equal amount of time.
7.5 During a recent review, ABC Corporation discovered that it has a serious internal control problem. It is estimated that the impact associated with this problem is $1 million and that the likelihood is currently 5%. Two internal control procedures have been proposed to deal with this problem. Procedure A would cost $25,000 and reduce likelihood to 2%; procedure B would cost $30,000 and reduce likelihood to 1%. If both procedures were implemented, likelihood would be reduced to 0.1%.
7.6 The management at Covington, Inc., recognizes that a well-designed internal control system provides many benefits. Among the benefits are reliable financial records that facilitate decision making and a greater probability of preventing or detecting errors and fraud. Covington’s internal auditing department periodically reviews the company’s accounting records to determine the effectiveness of internal controls. In its latest review, the internal audit staff found the following eight conditions:
- 1. Daily bank deposits do not always correspond with cash receipts.
- 2. Bad debt write-offs are prepared and approved by the same employee.
- 3. There are occasional discrepancies between physical inventory counts and perpetual inventory records.
- 4. Alterations have been made to physical inventory counts and to perpetual inventory records.
- 5. There are many customer refunds and credits.
- 6. Many original documents are missing or lost. However, there are substitute copies of all missing originals.
- 7. An unexplained decrease in the gross profit percentage has occurred.
- 8. Many documents are not approved.
For each of the eight conditions detected by the Covington internal audit staff:
b. Recommend actions to be taken and/or controls to be implemented that would correct the condition.
7.7 Consider the following two situations:
For the situations presented, dDescribe the recommendations the internal auditors should make to prevent the following problems.
Situation 1: Many employees of a firm that manufactures small tools pocket some of the tools for their personal use. Since the quantities taken by any one employee are immaterial, the individual employees do not consider the act as fraudulent or detrimental to the company. The company is now large enough to hire an internal auditor. One of the first things she did was to compare the gross profit rates for industrial tools to the gross profit for personal tools. Noting a significant difference, she investigated and uncovered the employee theft.
Situation 2: A manufacturing firm’s controller created a fake subsidiary. He then ordered goods from the firm’s suppliers, told them to ship the goods to a warehouse he rented, and approved the vendor invoices for payment when they arrived. The controller later sold the diverted inventory items, and the proceeds were deposited to the controller’s personal bank account. Auditors suspected something was wrong when they could not find any entries regarding this fake subsidiary office in the property, plant, and equipment ledgers or a title or lease for the office in the real-estate records of the firm
7.8 Tralor Corporation manufactures and sells several different lines of small electric components. Its internal audit department completed an audit of its expenditure processes. Part of the audit involved a review of the internal accounting controls for payables, including the controls over the authorization of transactions, accounting for transactions, and the protection of assets. The auditors noted the following items:
- 1. Routine purchases are initiated by inventory control notifying the purchasing department of the need to buy goods. The purchasing department fills out a prenumbered purchase order and gets it approved by the purchasing manager. The original of the five-part purchase order goes to the vendor. The other four copies are for purchasing, the user department, receiving for use as a receiving report, and accounts payable.
- 2. For efficiency and effectiveness, purchases of specialized goods and services are negotiated directly between the user department and the vendor. Company procedures require that the user department and the purchasing department approve invoices for any specialized goods and services before making payment.
- 3. Accounts payable maintains a list of employees who have purchase order approval authority. The list was updated two years ago and is seldom used by accounts payable clerks.
- 4. Prenumbered vendor invoices are recorded in an invoice register that indicates the receipt date, whether it is a special order, when a special order is sent to the requesting department for approval, and when it is returned. A review of the register indicated that there were seven open invoices for special purchases, which had been forwarded to operating departments for approval over 30 days previously and had not yet been returned.
- 5. Prior to making entries in accounting records, the accounts payable clerk checks the mathematical accuracy of the transaction, makes sure that all transactions are properly documented (the purchase order matches the signed receiving report and the vendor’s invoice), and obtains departmental approval for special purchase invoices.
- 6. All approved invoices are filed alphabetically. Invoices are paid on the 5th and 20th of each month, and all cash discounts are taken regardless of the terms.
- 7. The treasurer signs the checks and cancels the supporting documents. An original document is required for a payment to be processed.
- 8. Prenumbered blank checks are kept in a locked safe accessible only to the cash disbursements department. Other documents and records maintained by the accounts payable section are readily accessible to all persons assigned to the section and to others in the accounting function.
RRReview the eight items listed and decide whether they represent an internal control strength or weakness
- a. For each internal control strength you identified, explain how the procedure helps achieve good authorization, accounting, or asset protection control.
For each internal control weakness you identified, explain why it is a weakness and recommend a way to correct the weakness
7.7 Lancaster Company makes electrical parts for contractors and home improvement retail stores. After their annual audit, Lancaster’s auditors commented on the following items regarding internal controls over equipment:
- 1. The operations department that needs the equipment normally initiates a purchase requisition for equipment. The operations department supervisor discusses the proposed purchase with the plant manager. If there are sufficient funds in the requesting department’s equipment budget, a purchase requisition is submitted to the purchasing department once the plant manager is satisfied that the request is reasonable.
- 2. When the purchasing department receives either an inventory or an equipment purchase requisition, the purchasing agent selects an appropriate supplier and sends them a purchase order.
- 3. When equipment arrives, the user department installs it. The property, plant, and equipment control accounts are supported by schedules organized by year of acquisition. The schedules are used to record depreciation using standard rates, depreciation methods, and salvage values for each type of fixed asset. These rates, methods, and salvage values were set 10 years ago during the company’s initial year of operation.
- 4. When equipment is retired, the plant manager notifies the accounting department so the appropriate accounting entries can be made.
- 5. There has been no reconciliation since the company began operations between the accounting records and the equipment on hand.
Identify the internal control weaknesses in Lancaster’s system, and recommend ways to correct them.
7.10 The Langston Recreational Company (LRC) manufactures ice skates for racing, figure skating, and hockey. The company is located in Kearns, Utah, so it can be close to the Olympic Ice Shield, where many Olympic speed skaters train.
Given the precision required to make skates, tracking manufacturing costs is very important to management so it can price the skates appropriately. To capture and collect manufacturing costs, the company acquired an automated cost accounting system from a national vendor. The vendor provides support, maintenance, and data and program backup service for LRC’s system.
LRC operates one shift, five days a week. All manufacturing data are collected and recorded by Saturday evening so that the prior week’s production data can be processed. One of management’s primary concerns is how the actual manufacturing process costs compare with planned or standard manufacturing process costs. As a result, the cost accounting system produces a report that compares actual costs with standards costs and provides the difference, or variance. Management focuses on significant variances as one means of controlling the manufacturing processes and calculating bonuses.
Occasionally, errors occur in processing a week’s production cost data, which requires the entire week’s cost data to be reprocessed at a cost of $34,500. The current risk of error without any control procedures is 8%. LRC’s management is currently considering a set of cost accounting control procedures that is estimated to reduce the risk of the data errors from 8% to 3%. This data validation control procedure is projected to cost $1,000 per week.
7.11 Spring Water Spa Company is a 15-store chain in the Midwest that sells hot tubs, supplies, and accessories. Each store has a full-time, salaried manager and an assistant manager. The sales personnel are paid an hourly wage and a commission based on sales volume.
The company uses electronic cash registers to record each transaction. The salesperson enters his or her employee number at the beginning of his/her shift. For each sale, the salesperson rings up the order by scanning the item’s bar code, which then displays the item’s description, unit price, and quantity (each item must be scanned). The cash register automatically assigns a consecutive number to each transaction. The cash register prints a sales receipt that shows the total, any discounts, the sales tax, and the grand total.
The salesperson collects payment from the customer, gives the receipt to the customer, and either directs the customer to the warehouse to obtain the items purchased or makes arrangements with the shipping department for delivery. The salesperson is responsible for using the system to determine whether credit card sales are approved and for approving both credit sales and sales paid by check. Sales returns are handled in exactly the reverse manner, with the salesperson issuing a return slip when necessary.
At the end of each day, the cash registers print a sequentially ordered list of sales receipts and provide totals for cash, credit card, and check sales, as well as cash and credit card returns. The assistant manager reconciles these totals to the cash register tapes, cash in the cash register, the total of the consecutively numbered sales invoices, and the return slips. The assistant manager prepares a daily reconciled report for the store manager’s review.
Cash sales, check sales, and credit card sales are reviewed by the manager, who prepares the daily bank deposit. The manager physically makes the deposit at the bank and files the validated deposit slip. At the end of the month, the manager performs the bank reconciliation. The cash register tapes, sales invoices, return slips, and reconciled report are mailed daily to corporate headquarters to be processed with files from all the other stores. Corporate headquarters returns a weekly Sales and Commission Activity Report to each store manager for review.
Please respond to the following questions about Spring Water Spa Company’s operations:
7.12 PriceRight Electronics (PEI) is a small wholesale discount supplier of electronic instruments and parts. PEI’s competitive advantage is its deep-discount, three-day delivery guarantee, which allows retailers to order materials often to minimize in-store inventories. PEI processes its records with stand-alone, incompatible computer systems except for integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) inventory and accounts receivable modules. PEI decided to finish integrating its operations with more ERP modules, but because of cash flow considerations, this needs to be accomplished on a step-by-step basis.
It was decided that the next function to be integrated should be sales order processing to enhance quick response to customer needs. PEI implemented and modified a commercially available software package to meet PEI’s operations. In an effort to reduce the number of slow-paying or delinquent customers, PEI installed Web-based software that links to the Web site of a commercial credit rating agency to check customer credit at the time of purchase. The following are the new sales order processing system modules:
- Sales. Sales orders are received by telephone, fax, e-mail, Web site entry, or standard mail. They are entered into the sales order system by the Sales department. If the order does not cause a customer to exceed his credit limit, the system generates multiple copies of the sales order.
- Credit. When orders are received from new customers, the system automatically accesses the credit rating Web site and suggests an initial credit limit. On a daily basis, the credit manager reviews new customer applications for creditworthiness, reviews the suggested credit limits, and accepts or changes the credit limits in the customer database. On a monthly basis, the credit manager reviews the accounts receivable aging report to identify slow-paying or delinquent accounts for potential revisions to or discontinuance of credit. As needed, the credit manager issues credit memos for merchandise returns based on requests from customers and forwards copies of the credit memos to Accounting for appropriate account receivable handling.
- Warehousing. Warehouse personnel update the inventory master file for inventory purchases and sales, confirm availability of materials to fill sales orders, and establish back orders for sales orders that cannot be completed from stock on hand. Warehouse personnel gather and forward inventory to Shipping and Receiving along with the corresponding sales orders. They also update the inventory master file for merchandise returned to Receiving.
- Shipping and receiving. Shipping and Receiving accepts inventory and sales orders from Warehousing, packs and ships the orders with a copy of the sales order as a packing slip, and forwards a copy of the sales order to Billing. Customer inventory returns are unpacked, sorted, inspected, and sent to Warehousing.
- Accounting. Billing prices all sales orders received, which is done approximately 5 days after the order ships. To spread the work effort throughout the month, customers are placed in one of six 30-day billing cycles. Monthly statements, prepared by Billing, are sent to customers during the cycle billing period. Outstanding carry forward balances reported by Accounts Receivable and credit memos prepared by the credit manager are included on the monthly statement. Billing also prepares electronic sales and credit memos for each cycle. Electronic copies of invoices and credit memos are forwarded to Accounts Receivable for entry into the accounts receivable master file by customer account. An aging report is prepared at the end of each month and forwarded to the credit manager. The general accounting office staff access the accounts receivable master file that reflects total charges and credits processed through the accounts receivable system for each cycle. General accounting runs a query to compare this information to the electronic sales and credit memo and posts the changes to the general ledger master file.
7.1 Nino Moscardi, president of Greater Providence Deposit & Trust (GPD&T), received an anonymous note in his mail stating that a bank employee was making bogus loans. Moscardi asked the bank’s internal auditors to investigate the transactions detailed in the note. The investigation led to James Guisti, manager of a North Providence branch office and a trusted 14-year employee who had once worked as one of the bank’s internal auditors. Guisti was charged with embezzling $1.83 million from the bank using 67 phony loans taken out over a three-year period.
Court documents revealed that the bogus loans were 90-day notes requiring no collateral and ranging in amount from $10,000 to $63,500. Guisti originated the loans; when each one matured, he would take out a new loan, or rewrite the old one, to pay the principal and interest due. Some loans had been rewritten five or six times.
The 67 loans were taken out by Guisti in five names, including his wife’s maiden name, his father’s name, and the names of two friends. These people denied receiving stolen funds or knowing anything about the embezzlement. The fifth name was James Vanesse, who police said did not exist. The Social Security number on Vanesse’s loan application was issued to a female, and the phone number belonged to a North Providence auto dealer.
Lucy Fraioli, a customer service representative who cosigned the checks, said Guisti was her supervisor and she thought nothing was wrong with the checks, though she did not know any of the people. Marcia Perfetto, head teller, told police she cashed checks for Guisti made out to four of the five persons. Asked whether she gave the money to Guisti when he gave her checks to cash, she answered, “Not all of the time,” though she could not recall ever having given the money directly to any of the four, whom she did not know.
Guisti was authorized to make consumer loans up to a certain dollar limit without loan committee approvals, which is a standard industry practice. Guisti’s original lending limit was $10,000, the amount of his first fraudulent loan. The dollar limit was later increased to $15,000 and then increased again to $25,000. Some of the loans, including the one for $63,500, far exceeded his lending limit. In addition, all loan applications should have been accompanied by the applicant’s credit history report, purchased from an independent credit rating firm. The loan taken out in the fictitious name would not have had a credit report and should have been flagged by a loan review clerk at the bank’s headquarters.
News reports raised questions about why the fraud was not detected earlier. State regulators and the bank’s internal auditors failed to detect the fraud. Several reasons were given for the failure to find the fraud earlier. First, in checking for bad loans, bank auditors do not examine all loans and generally focus on loans much larger than the ones in question. Second, Greater Providence had recently dropped its computer services arrangement with a local bank in favor of an out-of-state bank. This changeover may have reduced the effectiveness of the bank’s control procedures. Third, the bank’s loan review clerks were rotated frequently, making follow-up on questionable loans more difficult.
Guisti was a frequent gambler and used the embezzled money to pay gambling debts. The bank’s losses totaled $624,000, which was less than the $1.83 million in bogus loans, because Guisti used a portion of the borrowed money to repay loans as they came due. The bank’s bonding company covered the loss.
The bank experienced other adverse publicity prior to the fraud’s discovery. First, the bank was fined $50,000 after pleading guilty to failure to report cash transactions exceeding $10,000, which is a felony. Second, bank owners took the bank private after a lengthy public battle with the State Attorney General, who alleged that the bank inflated its assets and overestimated its capital surplus to make its balance sheet look stronger. The bank denied this charge.