Lack of funding blocks fixing of computer flaws

By Louise M. Koryta

NIU President John LaTourette yesterday said due to a lack of funds, the university cannot correct problems addressed by a report from the Illinois Auditor General concerning NIU’s computer system.

At Tuesday’s press conference, LaTourette said the university either can agree or disagree with the findings. He said in some cases they agree with the findings, but cannot correct them due to a lack of funds.

For three or four years, the university has agreed with the Auditor General’s recommendation for a computer backup system, which would cost $90,000 to $100,000, LaTourette said. He said NIU has requested additional funding from the Illinois Board of Higher Education, but the IBHE has not asked for approval from the governor.

LaTourette said right now there are not enough funds to improve the primary system. He said $150,000 to $200,000 is needed first to increase capacity for fall registration and to maintain current demands on the computer by the students and faculty.

Nearly 100 percent of the system’s capacity is in use every day, LaTourette said. “He (the Auditor General) doesn’t have to face several thousand irate students if we don’t have the capacity to complete their schedules and assign students to classes,” he said.

Other findings not addressed by LaTourette Tuesday include problems with programmer access to data, control of computer programs and physical protection of equipment.

egarding the diversion of funds from the Huskie Stadium Skybox to the NIU Foundation, Audit Manager Lyle Manock said revenue totaling $25,000 from the sale of skybox season tickets was diverted to the foundation, although it should have been deposited into the Illinois State Treasury.

According to NIU Foundation Executive Director Dick Ubl, the university did not do anything wrong. “I’m not suggesting he (the Auditor General) is wrong, and certainly we’re not wrong. We obviously have a difference of opinion,” he said.

Tom Montiegel, vice president of Development and University Relations, said he disagrees with the finding because a portion of the revenue is used to maintain the skybox. LaTourette said it is necessary to have funds to maintain university structures.

owever, Ubl said, the money is put into an account and is used to entertain all the guests in the skybox. He said the money is not used for maintenance.

Ubl said he does not believe the Legislative Audit Commission, a board which reviews the Auditor General’s Report, will agree the diversion of funds violated the Illinois Finance Act, which mandates the deposit of revenue from investments into the state treasury.