For every classic payroll fraud, there is a classic internal control to prevent or mitigate the fraud. In the case discussed here, segregation of duties might have prevented the fraud or reduced the likelihood or severity of the fraud.
Not-for-profits and internal controls often have an uneasy relationship. On the one hand, many not-for-profits, especially the smaller ones, lack the resources to implement robust internal controls. Yet internal controls are as critical in not-for-profits as in for-profit entities. In some respects, internal control failures can be more catastrophic for not-for-profits because the public, regulators, and others often hold them to a higher standard.
Segregation of duties strengthens internal controls. Accounts payable or AP is one of the easiest channels for an organization to lose money if internal controls are weak. The AP department’s responsibility to monitor, process, and control payments to creditors is essential to avoiding improper payments. If there is no segregation of duties, internal controls are likely to be weak. If internal controls are weak, the risk of errors and improper payments increases.