Fraud Policy

G1.33 Fraud Policy


Missouri State University is committed to the highest standards of ethical leadership and responsible and transparent stewardship of university resources. Established policies and internal controls provide protections by preventing and/or detecting irregularities in university activities; however, there are no absolute safeguards against fraud or willful violations of laws, regulations, policies or procedures. The purpose of this policy is to set forth guidance for (1) the university community to report significant irregularities and suspicions of fraudulent or dishonest behavior; (2) proper investigation of each report, and; (3) subsequent disciplinary actions, if warranted.

General policy

  1. Policy Statement: The university will investigate significant irregularities and instances of fraudulent or dishonest behavior by members of the university community or its affiliates. Anyone found to have committed fraud will be subject to disciplinary action by the university, up to and including termination of employment or academic dismissal, and reported to law enforcement when warranted.
  2. Definitions:
    1. Fraud or fraudulent act: A deliberate act (or failure to act) with the intention of obtaining a benefit (financial or otherwise) for oneself, a third party or the university, through false representation, concealment or other unethical means which are believed and relied upon by others. Depriving another person or the university of a benefit to which they are entitled by using any of the means described above also constitutes fraud. Examples include, but are not limited to, theft, bribes, kickbacks and falsification of contracts, time sheets or other records.
    2. Irregularities: Violations of federal or state laws or regulations and serious or recurring violations of university policies or procedures.
    3. Misappropriations: Misuse, theft or embezzlement of university funds, resources or property.
    4. Whistleblower: A person or entity making a protected disclosure of significant irregularities and instances of fraudulent or dishonest behavior. Protections offered are outlined in the G1.25 Ethics Hotline – Whistleblower Policy.
  3. Applicability: The fraud policy applies to any actual or suspected irregularity, fraudulent or dishonest act, involving any member of the university community, including:
    1. Members of the Board of Governors;
    2. Individuals who are paid by the university when they are working for the university, to include faculty, staff and student workers;
    3. Consultants, vendors, contractors and any other outside agency when they are doing business with the university;
    4. Individuals who perform services for the university as volunteers and who assert an association with the university; and
    5. Students.
    Any investigative activity required will be conducted without regard to the length of service, position/title or relationship to the university.
  4. Responsibilities & Reporting
    1. University management is responsible for the detection and prevention of fraud, misappropriation and other irregularities in university activities. Each member of management is expected to recognize risks within their area of responsibility and be watchful and on alert for any indication of irregularity.
    2. Members of the university community who detect or suspect irregularities or instances of fraudulent or dishonest behavior should not attempt to investigate the matter themselves, but rather must report the matter through the following channels:
      1. To their immediate supervisor, instructor or advisor. If for any reason it is not appropriate to report to the immediate supervisor, individuals may go to a higher level of management within their college or department.
      2. In instances where individuals are uncomfortable discussing concerns with a university official, a confidential and even anonymous report can be filed through the Ethics Hotline. Ethics Portal is an online reporting tool which collects information anonymously. Reports can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Reporting such concerns is an important service to the university and does not in itself jeopardize employment, as long as the report is made in good faith. Whistleblower protections are available for those who report under G1.25 Whistleblower Policy (Ethics Hotline).
        1. To file a written report with the Ethics Hotline, go to Ethics Portal.
    3. University management must notify the department of internal audit and risk management as soon as significant irregularities and instances of fraudulent or dishonest behavior is reported, suspected or detected. The department of internal audit and risk management has the primary responsibility for the investigation of all suspected fraudulent acts as defined by this policy. The director of internal audit and risk management with input and assistance from the president and the office of general counsel will coordinate the investigation and resolution, and will issue reports to appropriate university departments/personnel and to the Board of Governors through its Risk Management and Audit Committee.

      Decisions to prosecute or refer the investigation results to external law enforcement and/or regulatory agencies for independent investigation will be made by the department of internal audit and risk management in conjunction with the university’s general counsel and president.
    4. All employees are required to cooperate fully in any internal or external investigation. Failure to cooperate as requested may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. The investigation team will have free and unrestricted access to all university records and premises, whether owned or rented and the authority to examine, copy, and/or remove all or any portion of the contents of files, desks, cabinets and other storage facilities on the premises without prior knowledge or consent of any individual who might use or have custody of any such items or facilities when it is within the scope of an ongoing fraud investigation.
  5. Investigation
    1. The director of internal audit and risk management, with input and assistance of the office of president, office of general counsel and other necessary administrators, will coordinate efforts to investigate all significant suspicions or detections of fraudulent behavior.
    2. Investigation results will not be disclosed or discussed with anyone other than those who have a legitimate need to know, and/or as required by law.
    3. All inquiries concerning the activity under investigation from the suspected individual, their attorney or representative or any other inquirer should be directed to the office of general counsel.
  6. Disciplinary Actions
    1. The university will not rely on a determination by a law enforcement agency to pursue criminal charges and/or prosecution as the basis for determining whether an act is fraudulent. The presence of the elements set forth in the definition will determine if the act is fraudulent for internal disciplinary purposes. A determination as to whether those elements exist will be made based on a preponderance of the evidence.
    2. If an investigation results in a recommendation for disciplinary action, including without limitation termination of employment, academic dismissal or termination of a third-party contract or affiliation, the recommendation will be submitted to the office of general counsel for review in consultation with administration (e.g., human resources, the office of the provost, student conduct, etc.) and approval before any such action is taken. The department of internal audit and risk management does not have the authority to discipline university employees or students. Rather, such decisions will be made consistent with existing university policies and procedures, including the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the Employee Handbook and Faculty Handbook.