Campus - 17.01.2019 - 00:00 

HSG to reinforce compliance and create more transparency

The University of St.Gallen (HSG) is taking various measures to reinforce compliance and create more transparency. On the one hand, the initialling process for expenses is clearly regulated in a new directive, and on the other hand, new expense regulations have been adopted. A fourth Vice-President will strengthen the President Board’s management capacities and specifically deal with the issues of compliance and the internal controlling system. An increase in transparency regarding outside activities will result from a central online register, which will be publicly accessible from summer 2019. Now, partnerships with third parties will already have to be disclosed from amounts of CHF 50,000 p.a. In the expenses case, the University’s Board of Governors has filed a criminal complaint against Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Sester and discharged him from all his functions with immediate effect.

17 January 2019. On the basis of their insights from the internally uncovered expenses case and the previous practice concerning University faculty members’ outside activities, the President’s Board and the University’s Board of Governors have initiated several measures in the last few months in order to rectify the weak points that were identified. On the one hand, these measures are in the interest of the time-tested, practice-oriented model of the HSG while on the other hand, they serve the University’s connectivity to national and international standards.

New directive for expense claims and new expense regulations

With effect from 1 February 2019, the University’s Board of Governors has adopted a new, clear-cut directive for the initialling of expense claims in accordance with the "four-eyes principle". In the institute’s executive boards, expense claims will in future have to be initialled by a second person, who must be authorised to initial such claims but has to be independent of the expense claimant (without imputation). In the case of full professors who are not affiliated to an institute, this second signature will be provided by the dean. Deans will have to have their expenses initialled by the President’s Board. In parallel with this directive, the University’s Board of Governors adopted the revised expense regulations on the occasion of its January meeting; it is scheduled to enter into force as from 1 February 2019. Specifications were made with regard to documentation requirements and to the means of transport and overnight accommodation to be used. In addition, the HSG will not pay out lump-sum expense allowances any longer. Expenses will be subject to the principles of proportionality and economy. Any deviations from the rules will require prior approval.

Criminal complaint filed in the internally uncovered expenses case

In connection with the expenses case which was uncovered internally in spring 2018, three disciplinary proceedings were initiated in June 2018 on the basis of the administrative enquiry that had been launched immediately. The administrative enquiry examined any possibly expense payments at an institute of the HSG which did not meet the requirements of the expense regulations. At its regular meeting in November 2018, the University’s Board of Governors was able to debate the final report of the administrative enquiry for the first time and, in addition, passed it on to the Canton’s Disciplinary Committee for further processing in connection with the three disciplinary proceedings.

After an in-depth evaluation of the results of the final report of the administrative enquiry, the University’s Board of Governors decided on the occasion of its January meeting to file a criminal complaint against Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Sester immediately. The relevant disciplinary proceeding is being suspended for this period of time, and Peter Sester has been discharged from all his functions at the HSG with immediate effect.

The disciplinary proceedings against the other two faculty members are continuing. The aim is, however, to conclude them expeditiously.

Online register for outside activities

The information and disclosure guidelines, which had been applicable at the HSG since October 2014, were revised and put into force by means of a resolution of the University’s Board of Governors as from 11 December 2018. The disclosure of outside activities is now explicitly specified as an official obligation. Additionally, specifications were added which regulate the extent, type and applicability of outside activities.

Faculty members’ outside activities will in future be listed in a central, publicly accessible online register. This register will be posted by summer 2019 at the latest.

In addition, the existing regulations concerning outside activities are being extensively revised until summer 2019 and will be adopted by the relevant bodies. The general public will be informed of the results of this revision.

More transparency is also being created with regard to partnerships and to services provided to third parties, as well as to the reception of sponsorship monies and donations. Now, the obligation to disclose will already start with CHF 50,000 (previously: CHF 100,000). The corresponding information will be made accessible to the general public on the websites of the individual units and institutes.

Reinforcement of the President’s Board with a fourth Vice-President

As from 1 February 2019, the management capacity of the President’s Board will be reinforced with a fourth Vice-President, who will substantially strengthen the field of planning and development, act as the contact point for the institutes and also deal with the current issues of compliance and the internal controlling system (IKS). With the appointment of Prof. Dr. Peter Leibfried, this post will be occupied by a proven specialist in accounting and auditing (further information can be found in the media release of 17 January 2019). Peter Leibfried will take office together with Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schmid, the new Vice-President of External Relations, on 1 February 2019.

In addition, the Government approved the appointment by the Senate and the University’s Board of Governors of Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ehrenzeller as the new President. He had already been Vice-President from 2003 to 2011 and will succeed Prof. Dr. Thomas Bieger on 1 February 2020 (cf. media release of 15 January 2019).

Besides the planned expansion of the infrastructure, his term of office will in particular be characterised by the revision of the University Act, the preliminary work for which was launched by the University’s Board of Directors just over a year ago. For this extensive revision work, an external project management that is independent of the HSG will be set up, which will report to the Government.

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