Texas A&M University System Integrates Scattered Lines of Communication with NAVEX Global
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest and most complex systems of higher education in the United States, consisting of eleven universities, eight state agencies and a health science center. The Texas A&M University System educates more than 110,000 students and reaches more than 15 million people each year through service.
In keeping with its obligation to students, employees and other stakeholders to maintain the highest ethical standards and principles, the A&M System needed to bring multiple universities and agencies into a single, centralized system that would help protect against anything that could put the institutions, agencies, staff or students at risk.
“Employees know that we care about wrongdoing, so we expect them to report anything they suspect to be wrong. They know they have an avenue to bring any issues forward so they can be resolved. NAVEX Global offered a reporting system that matched our structure and gave each institution a separate reporting page, as well as the ability to track specific risks at each individual institution.” – Cathy Smock, Chief Auditor
In the past, hotlines were scattered throughout the A&M System. There were hotlines for security, student safety, research impropriety, human resources, ethics and financial fraud, only to name a few. What was missing was a central function for intake, tracking and understanding the issues that could threaten students, faculty or the reputation of the A&M System.
At the time, these hotlines were managed by each of the universities and agencies within the A&M System, resulting in a lack of a big picture perspective, says Cathy Smock, Chief Auditor.
“We realized we should track these risks as a system rather than piece by piece, but each university still needed to manage its own sub-set of issues,” said Smock.
Recognizing that it would be more efficient to bring all of the hotline resources together and analyze system-wide risks with a centralized, integrated reporting function, the A&M System, with support from the Board of Regent’s Committee on Audit, selected NAVEX Global to provide a centralized structure.
The Ideal Solution: NAVEX Global Hotline & Case Management
Working with NAVEX Global’s Implementation Services team, the A&M System customized the reporting system. Within the overall structure, each institution and agency needed a unique reporting system to gain deeper insight into its risk areas.
Now, all reports automatically trigger a notification for Smock, along with Robin Woods, Manager of Investigative Audit Services, the Deputy General Counsel and two designated employees from the institution or agency involved, Woods says.
“With all of the information in one database, we can monitor every type of issue to get a holistic view of where risks exist across the system,” said Woods.
“The hotline is set up to give everyone confidence that any issue will be documented and handled correctly,” said Woods. Woods and the designated university or agency report recipients assess every report to ensure they are reviewed by the appropriate party and in a timely manner. This allows for a higher level of oversight and more consistency in how reports are handled.
Since every issue is stored within a central database, the A&M System can study the accumulated data in search of trends in the number and type of reports received and the university system or agency involved. “With all of the information in one database, we can monitor every type of issue to get a holistic view of where risks exist across the system,” said Woods.
The A&M System now has more accurate case histories, which include the actions taken to review the reports and the associated resolutions. Bringing issue reporting and investigations together across the A&M System has been a marked improvement.
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