State financial report more than six months overdue

Iowa still has not finalized its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2020. That report is typically published by the end of December, but Iowa State University was more than six months late in providing its year-end financial data to the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, which compiles the annual reports.

ISU’s problems with extracting financial data coincided with the university’s switch to the Workday computer system for accounting, which happened on July 1, 2019–the beginning of the 2020 fiscal year. Although many people spent months trying to submit ISU’s fiscal year 2020 data to the state, the university submitted “incomplete and very draft financial statements” in February 2021, more than four months after the normal time frame for state government entities to send complete, auditable data to the Department of Administrative Services.

Continue Reading...

ISU's Workday problems still delaying state financial report

The state of Iowa’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the 2020 fiscal year may be finalized by the end of June, six months later than the usual publication date.

Staff at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services compile the report using data provided by state government entities, and for many years have completed that work by December 31. However, Iowa State University (ISU) struggled to provide accurate, auditable data for the fiscal year that ran from July 2019 through June 2020. The reporting problems coincided with the year the university switched to the Workday computer system for accounting.

While other state government units sent their year-end financials by the usual deadline of October 1, 2020, ISU completed that process more than six months later, in early April.

Continue Reading...

Exclusive: ISU accounting issues still delaying state financial report

Editor’s note from Laura Belin: The Governmental Accounting Standards Board and the Government Finance Officers Association now discourage use of the common acronym for this report, because when pronounced it sounds like a racial slur. Bleeding Heartland will avoid using the acronym in the future. Original post follows.

Challenges in obtaining auditable financial data from Iowa State University continue to delay the publication of the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) covering the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020. The Iowa Department of Administrative Services compiles the CAFR and typically publishes it by December 31. The latest edition has been held up because ISU was unable to submit its year-end financial data on the usual timetable.

The university switched to using the Workday computer system for accounting at the start of the 2020 fiscal year. While Iowa’s public universities have long sent year-end data to the Department of Administrative by October 1, ISU is still working on some “supplemental pieces” six months later.

Continue Reading...

Iowa's state universities are dying, slowly

Alex Travesset dispels some misconceptions that threaten to turn Iowa’s state universities into “giant teaching community colleges with no research.” -promoted by Laura Belin

It was January of 1997 when I got an offer for a three-year research position at Syracuse University in New York. I defended my PhD that summer and arrived at Syracuse in early September. I had never been in the U.S. before, but I quickly found it a fantastic environment to work, based on merit and so different with the bureaucracy and cronyism that I had experienced in European universities.

Fast forward to winter 2002. During another two-year position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, preceded by a short-term but productive visiting position at Harvard University, I was interviewing for faculty jobs. At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst I had an exchange I will never forget. Noticing that the institution was in apparent crisis at the time, I very politely inquired about it to the chair of the Department of Physics. He told me very honestly that Massachusetts had too many top private universities, and it was not like the Midwest, where legislators are alumni and have developed a pride and special bond toward their public universities.

Fittingly, my last interview was at Iowa State. I fell in love right away; it was quite similar to the University of Illinois, had a thriving department, but in addition, a National Lab, the Ames lab, just across the physics building. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I got an offer, which I accepted without delay. In August 2002, I moved to Ames and started a tenure track position as assistant professor. As is the norm, I was given generous funds to get my research group started. With the typical highs and lows, I got tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 2008. I became full professor in 2013.

Continue Reading...

As GOP lawmakers threaten free inquiry, governor emphasizes "bottom line"

Herb Strentz: Republican bills to ban tenure at Iowa’s state universities have moved forward in both chambers. Governor Kim Reynolds isn’t concerned. -promoted by Laura Belin

When one surveys the efforts of the Iowa legislature and Governor Kim Reynolds this legislative session, the words “striving for equality” may not come to mind — what with efforts to undercut public education, sabotage access to abortion, punish the LGBTQ community and enact other vindictive measures, as noted by Kathie Obradovich in Iowa Capital Dispatch.

“Equality” does come to mind, however, albeit in an oddball way — the efforts of some legislators to bring Iowans down to their level of what Iowa should be about.

That may be a harsh way to look at Iowa law-making, but it is merited by House File 49 and Senate File 41, proposals to make Iowa the first state in the nation to outlaw tenure at its public universities, in our case Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa.

Continue Reading...

Where are they now? Steven Leath edition

A contact recently asked what Steven Leath is up to lately. Longtime Bleeding Heartland readers will recall this site’s extensive coverage of the scandal regarding the Iowa State University president’s misuse of state-owned aircraft. Leath resigned as ISU president in March 2017 to accept a position as president of Auburn University in Alabama. However, that university’s trustees agreed in June 2019 to pay Leath $4.5 million to walk away from the job two years into a five-year contract. He is due to collect the last of three $1.5 million payments this July.

While Leath was still at Auburn, President Donald Trump appointed him to the National Science Board, a body that advises Congress and the presidential administration on matters related to science or engineering. His term will expire in May 2024. Leath walked then-candidate Trump across the field before the Iowa/Iowa State football game in September 2015, a controversial act he said was not meant as an endorsement. He has long been friendly with Donald Trump, Jr., with whom he sat during the Iowa State men’s basketball “Sweet Sixteen” game in Madison Square Garden in March 2014.

The younger Trump and Leath share an interest in hunting, which is the focus of the former university president’s newest position. The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports announced in October that Leath would serve as the organization’s executive director, beginning January 1, 2021. How much he will earn in that job is not clear; available tax returns indicate the nonprofit has been paying a firm owned by the council’s CEO between $186,139 and $193,584 annually for “general management services.”

In late 2017, Leath sold the Hardin County land he had purchased the previous year, with the help of a company run by then Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter. He still has at least one formal connection to Iowa, though, as an advisory council member for the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines.

Continue Reading...
View More...