Published: November 4, 2021
When was the last time you reviewed and updated your deposit process? Deposits become so routine that it is easy to forget that your internal controls might need adjusting as your financial activity changes over time. On top of that, there are new options and technology for deposits that can help you strengthen your security measures.
Here are some tips and resources to get you started:
- Evaluate the frequency of your deposits. Make sure your deposit frequency and security measures still make sense for the current amount of funds you have awaiting deposit. If your overall deposit activity and cash levels have increased or your security risks are higher, it might be time to review your government’s controls. Additionally, you might consider increasing how often you make deposits, especially since it might be less expensive to deposit more frequently now than it was in years past. Keep in mind that state law (RCW 43.09.240) requires you to have a waiver from your treasurer if you are not depositing daily. However, your treasurer cannot approve depositing funds any less frequently than once per week. Remember: The safest place for deposits is the bank—not your office.
- Consider how you get deposits to the bank. Your method for getting your deposits to the bank should reflect the degree of security and convenience that you need. For larger amounts of cash, using an armored car is safer. If you primarily collect checks, then you can deposit those right from your office using remote check deposit—just call your bank to find out more. Governments with few checks might choose a mobile device as a good solution for remote deposits, and many vendors offer dedicated check scanning software options that can help governments remotely process high volumes of checks quickly. If your primary bank is far away, consider setting up a sweep account at a nearby bank; once you deposit funds into this account, they are swept automatically into your main account. Sweep accounts can help you regularly deliver your deposits to a bank location that is more convenient for you.
- Keep your deposits secure in the meantime. Some cash receipting locations use a safe, while others may use a locked room or even a file cabinet. Whatever you are using, it should make sense given the amount of money involved. It might be time to upgrade or even reallocate the resources you have, such as moving a safe from one cash receipting location to another with a higher need. For those locations that handle a lot of cash, security cameras might be a logical addition. Also, over time, more people than necessary may have been granted access to where you store your deposits. Take a look at who has access and determine if that access is absolutely necessary. Not everyone in the office needs to know the code to the safe.
- Update your safe combinations. It’s not uncommon for safes to go years without combination changes. And it’s hard to know how careful staff is with the combination—we’ve seen sticky notes on safes that have the combinations written right on them. Consider whether it’s time to change your safe combination or rekey a locked room to help you keep your deposits safe and secure.
- Verify that your safes are actually locked. You might be surprised, but we occasionally see safes in use—and left unlocked—throughout the day. Drop by unexpectedly to make sure your staff is using safes or other locking devices appropriately.
- Learn about new safe technology. If you are in the market for a new safe, explore some of the latest features and technology. Some new features are as simple as separate locking drawers or drop slots that feed into separate locking compartments, while others are more sophisticated like requiring dual sets of credentials to open the safe and tracking user access. Safes are becoming more automated, and many now have the ability to count coins and notes, provide an audit trail of each transaction—down to the exact operator—and even integrate with a point-of-sale system. The features you choose for your new safe should make sense given your government’s deposit activity and risks.
Looking for other resources about cash receipting? These resources can help you improve your government’s internal controls:
- SAO’s Cash Receipting Guide can give you ideas to help you improve your cash receipting process, no matter your role.
- SAO’s Internal Control Checklist for Cash Receipting can help you evaluate your current controls.
- SAO’s Segregation of Duties Guide has a chapter on cash receipting that can help you consider what cash receipting duties should be segregated or how you can implement mitigating controls if segregation isn’t possible.
Remember, SAO’s Center for Government Innovation is here to help. If you have questions about how to improve your cash receipting internal controls, let us know! We have financial management specialists at the Center who are available to talk through projects you might be working on that could affect your internal control systems. Email us at Center@sao.wa.gov.