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Internal Controls: What are they and why do we need them?

Internal controls encompass an organization’s plan to meet its mission; promote performance leading to effective accomplishment of goals; safeguard assets; ensure accuracy and reliability of data; promote operational efficiency; and encourage adherence to prescribed managerial policies and procedures. Our competence and professional integrity are essential components of a sound internal control program. By knowing what our responsibilities are, we can help to provide reasonable assurance that our internal control systems are adequate and operating in an efficient manner.

The Internal Control Act, more specifically referred to as the New York State Governmental Accountability, Audit and Internal Control Act (originated in Chapter 814 of the Laws of 1987, then made permanent in Chapter 510 of the Laws of 1999), is the basis for the SUNY Oswego Internal Control Program. The Internal Control Act requires that all state agencies establish and maintain a formal internal control program. There are six requirements of the Internal Control Act of 1987:

  1. Maintain written internal control guidelines.

  2. Maintain an internal control system for continuous review of operations.

  3. Make a concise statement of policy and standards available to all employees.

  4. Designate an Internal Control Officer.

  5. Educate and train all employees on internal controls.

  6. Evaluate the need for an internal audit function.