Internal Control Limitations

There is no such thing as a perfect control system. Staff size limitations may obstruct efforts to properly segregate duties, which requires the implementation of compensating controls to ensure that objectives are achieved. A limited inherent in any system is the element of human error, misunderstandings, fatigue and stress. Employees are to be encouraged to take earned vacation time in order to improve operations through crosstraining while enabling employees to overcome or avoid stress and fatigue.

The cost of implementing a specific control should not exceed the expected benefit of the control. Sometimes there is no out-of-pocket costs to establish an adequate control. A realignment of duty assignments may be all that is necessary to accomplish the objective. In analyzing the pertinent costs and benefits, managers also need to consider the possible ramifications for the University at large and attempt to identify and weigh the intangible as well as the tangible consequences.

Internal controls should reduce the risks associated with undetected errors or irregularities, but designing and establishing effective internal controls is not always a simple task and cannot always be accomplished through a short set of quick fixes. However, we hope this chapter has helped to explain the basic internal control concepts and given you some ideas for improving your department's controls.