Lexsteel, a manufacturer of steel furniture, has facilities throughout the United States. Problems with the accounts payable system have prompted Lexsteel’s external auditor to recommend a detailed study to determine the company’s exposure to fraud and to identify ways to improve internal control. Lexsteel’s controller assigned the study to Dolores Smith. She interviewed Accounts Payable employees and created the flowchart of the current system shown in Figure 5-3.

Lexsteel’s purchasing, production control, accounts payable, and cash disbursements functions are centralized at corporate headquarters. The company mainframe at corporate headquarters is linked to the computers at each branch location by leased telephone lines.

The mainframe generates production orders and the bills of material needed for the production runs. From the bills of material, purchase orders for raw materials are generated and e-mailed to vendors. Each purchase order tells the vendor which manufacturing plant to ship the materials to. When the raw materials arrive, the manufacturing plants produce the items on the production orders received from corporate headquarters.

The manufacturing plant checks the goods received for quality, counts them, reconciles the count to the packing slip, and e-mails the receiving data to Accounts Payable. If raw material deliveries fall behind production, each branch manager can send emergency purchase orders directly to vendors. Emergency order data and verification of materials received are e-mailed to Accounts Payable. Since the company employs a computerized perpetual inventory system, periodic physical counts of raw materials are not performed.

Vendor invoices are e-mailed to headquarters and entered by Accounts Payable when received. This often occurs before the branch offices transmit the receiving data. Payments are due 10 days after the company receives the invoices. Using information on the invoice, Data Entry calculates the final day the invoice can be paid, and it is entered as the payment due date.

Once a week, invoices due the following week are printed in chronological entry order on a payment listing, and the corresponding checks are drawn. The checks and payment listing are sent to the treasurer’s office for signature and mailing to the payee. The check number is printed by the computer, displayed on the check and the payment listing, and validated as the checks are signed. After the checks are mailed, the payment listing is returned to Accounts Payable for filing. When there is insufficient cash to pay all the invoices, the treasurer retains certain checks and the payment listing until all checks can be paid. When the remaining checks are mailed, the listing is then returned to Accounts Payable. Often, weekly check mailings include a few checks from the previous week, but rarely are there more than two weekly listings involved.

When Accounts Payable receives the payment listing from the treasurer’s office, the expenses are distributed, coded, and posted to the appropriate cost center accounts. Accounts Payable processes weekly summary performance reports for each cost center and branch location.

1. Discuss three ways Lexsteel is exposed to fraud and recommend improvements to correct these weaknesses.

2. Describe three ways management information could be distorted and recommend improvements to correct these weaknesses.

3. Identify and explain three strengths in Lexsteel’s procedures.

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