Sponsored Research: Using the data to Detect, Deter & Prevent Fraud

Traditional methods of auditing sponsored research activities include random sampling and testing a handful of transactions for compliance.  A much more effective approach requires the use of data analytics to review the entire population, and sorting the transactions by risk.  This approach creates a more effective audit, allowing us to identify and focus limited resources on the highest risk transactions and projects.  By reviewing previous fraud cases, we have identified the major key indicators of fraud in sponsored research and developed a new approach to sponsored research audits by using data analytics to target our audit procedures for the most effective use of limited resources. 

Speakers: Melissa Hall, Associate Director, Forensic Audits, Georgia Institute of Technology
                  Paul Coleman, Consultant with Georgia Institute of Technology

 Melissa Hall is the Associate Director of Forensic Audits at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she deals extensively with investigations of fraud, waste, and abuse in the Institute. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Clayton State University.  Melissa has nearly two decades experience in both internal and external audit. Her prior experience as an audit manager with regional accounting firm Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, LLP and additionally as the Chief Financial Officer of a K-12 education institution has provided her with a unique perspective and insight on fraud investigations in higher education. These experiences prove invaluable when working with both internal and external legal counsel, prosecutors, and other law enforcement agencies. Melissa is currently serving ACUA as a Board Member at Large.  Previously, she has served ACUA in several roles including Best Practices Committee Member, Annual Conference Track Coordinator, Annual Conference Speaker, and Proctor.

Paul Coleman retired from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in December 2013 after serving as a Senior Special Agent with over 30 years of federal service.  Paul was recognized as a resourceful leader of multi-disciplinary teams that conducted complex investigations of scientific research and education grant funds.  As an investigator, Paul took a customer service approach and coordinated his investigations with officials from grantee institutions to successfully complete hundreds of investigations.  Paul is a consultant, currently working with the GA Tech Internal Auditing Department, and uses his many years of conducting investigations at higher education institutions to improve internal controls and reduce risk.  Paul’s current work involves the use of DATA Analytics; the red flags that are used to identify unallowable cost on grants; and the responsibilities of researchers, financial and administrative personnel, and management in the grant process.


Upon completion of this program participants will be able to:


1. Identify the key indicators of fraud in Sponsored Research activities.
2. Evaluate the use of Data Analytics in Sponsored Research Audits.
3. Explain key elements of a sponsored research audit program designed to detect fraud.

Field of Study: Auditing
Program Level: Overview
Location: Virtual
Type of Delivery Method: Group-internet-based
Prerequisite: None
Advanced Preparation: Knowledge of sponsored research award process is helpful but not required.
CPE Credit: 1 Credit Hour
Cost: None

Materials