Georgia Tech's Business School Undergoes Voluntary Audit to Ensure Integrity of Rankings Data

In an environment where business leaders are increasingly expected to certify the publication of financial information, Georgia Tech's DuPree College of Management has engaged a local certified public accounting firm, Frazier & Deeter, LLC, to certify records used in reporting statistics for various rankings publications. Data being audited include student enrollment, GMAT scores, accepted applicants, number of job offers, and return on investment.
Prospective students, faculty, and other constituents often view the highly competitive business school rankings as critical performance indicators of the overall value and quality of an MBA program in much the same way shareholders view a company's stock price. Today more than ever, national and international ranking by publications such as Business Week, U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and The Financial Times of London significantly affect the reputation of MBA programs, and thus their ability to attract the best and the brightest.
A desire to manipulate impressions of performance lead to situations in corporations like Enron and WorldCom and it is equally plausible to think that the same motivation could lead schools to manipulate impressions of their performance.
The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), which administers the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) internationally, has recognized the potential for misconduct in reporting rankings statistics for some time. For the past three years, GMAC has underwritten mock audits to business schools that choose to participate, and in January 2003 will begin offering bona fide audits. Although many schools have participated in off-the-record audits, administrators in the DuPree College have initiated an actual audit to demonstrate the importance of business schools taking steps to stress to students the importance of honest reporting.
"As Chief Academic Officer, I want to make sure that the information I am submitting is accurate," said Dr. Terry C. Blum, dean, DuPree College of Management. "It is important for those of us who are business school leaders to provide the example of ensuring this information is complete and accurate."
Measurement error, analytical errors, and insignificant statistical data remain as general concerns with this sort of information. By taking the initiative for a voluntary audit, however, the DuPree College is emphasizing the importance of confirming that the information is correctly reported - or that corrections are made if honest errors are uncovered.
"It is important to us to take the lead in doing the right thing," Blum said.