Carole OnikBy Katherine Obmascik • May 10, 2013
Carole Onik is an internal auditor in Argonne’s Performance Management and Assurance division. She performs financial, operational and compliance audits, looking at numbers, processes and procedures.
What is your role at Argonne?
My role is to evaluate risk and control processes that are administered by management, through the performance of scheduled internal audits. I perform testing of controls over laboratory financial reporting that supports the chief financial officer and the lab director’s annual assurance to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that we’re doing things right. Occasionally, I facilitate communication between staff and our external auditor and the DOE Office of the Inspector General, since they may perform audits at Argonne.
What attracted you to work at Argonne?
Argonne’s reputation as the nation’s premier research lab — its rich history, world-class research and future outlook. Also, I was able to start part-time at Argonne, which was helpful since my children were in school.
What do you like most about your job?
I see all facets of the lab during fieldwork. I learn about each division — programmatic and support. I like the interaction with people. Because I contribute to the lab’s mission by identifying things we might be able to improve upon or seeing that we are doing things correctly and validating that, I think I make a difference in the nation’s future, albeit indirectly. When the lab is successful and I’ve had some small part in that, I feel that I’ve made a difference.
What advice would you give to school children?
Read, read, read. Develop study habits — they lead to discipline later in life. That discipline can help with time management at work. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Find a mentor you trust and admire. Above all, maintain your personal integrity.
What are your professional values?
We, as auditors, have to maintain our objectivity and impartiality. We have to maintain standards that are above and beyond reproach; we make determinations and recommendations based on our review of many confidential documents, financial and otherwise. Auditors must adhere to — in addition to the lab’s professional statement of conduct and conflict of interest certifications — certain professional standards contained in international standards for the professional practice of internal auditing. We have a special code of ethics; we must exhibit integrity, objectivity, confidentiality and competency.
How does your work contribute to Argonne’s larger goals?
I provide contributions that will affect the overall governance, risk management and internal control environment of the lab. By our testing, I provide reasonable assurance to management that things are working as they should to achieve the lab’s mission, while at the same time being a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars.