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Case study
Auburn University Keeps Close Watch on Ethical and Financial Risks

About this Case study

With multiple stakeholders to consider, Auburn University needed a comprehensive ethics reporting suite to manage incoming reports. Read more here.

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    Implement an incident management system
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    About Auburn University

    The Auburn University creed states, “I believe in honesty and truthfulness. I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all.” In the spirit of that creed, the 10,000 employees of Auburn University and its campuses have rededicated themselves to modeling ethical behavior.

    Auburn was established in 1856 and is now one of the largest universities in the South with more than 29,000 students. The university partnered with NAVEX to provide employees an anonymous method for reporting any suspected financial or human resources issues.


    When an external auditor advised Auburn University to outsource its employee hotline system, Kevin Robinson, Executive Director of Internal Audit, was in complete agreement. It was essential for his department to provide employees an incident reporting system that can guarantee anonymity, Kevin explains.

    “We want our institution to operate in a financially and ethically responsible way. To ensure that outcome, we need to give employees confidence to report issues.” The effectiveness of a whistleblower program depends in large part upon employee confidence in the system and Auburn understood that confidence rises when the system is managed outside of the institution.

    Before the recommendation, Kevin’s department made do with an internally-operated phone number and recording device. When the audit department found the system unsuccessful, Kevin assembled an advisory board of campus stakeholders. After considering several options, the board unanimously selected NAVEX to provide a solution.


    “As an audit department we need to know what is happening at our institution. EthicsPoint helps us listen to the people who know the most about what’s going on: Our employees.”

    During the implementation, Kevin and the advisory board at Auburn worked with NAVEX to customize the system according to the university’s needs.

    While employees can report any issue of concern, the audit department keeps a narrow focus on financial reports. Any other reports – including issues involving human resources and athletic compliance – are routed to the appropriate campus office.

    When an employee makes a report, the audit department receives a notification and decides the appropriate steps to take in resolving the issue. Nearly every report is submitted online, Kevin says.

    NAVEX’s case management software allows the audit department to request more information or evidence from the reporter, who can provide answers while remaining anonymous. This feature makes sure Kevin’s team has complete, accurate information before proceeding with an investigation.


    The reporting system gave the audit department an additional source of information about potential issues on campus. While Kevin hopes to eventually progress to a fully integrated governance, risk and compliance program at Auburn, he has noted important benefits since implementing the NAVEX system, including improved employee confidence, more accurate and timely information, and better visibility into potential risk areas before they become a problem.

    About NAVEX

    NAVEX’s GRC software and compliance management solutions support the integrated risk, ESG and compliance management programs at more than 13,000 organizations worldwide.

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