Sneak Preview: Having an Internal Contact Person Can Enhance Single Audit Process

Jerry Ashworth
November 16, 2018 at 09:00:38 ET
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(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) When undergoing a single audit, nonfederal entities are encouraged to have a designated internal contact that will communicate with the auditor throughout the process to ensure that appropriate staff are available for interviews and that documents are presented as requested, according to a Maryland-based auditor.

Speaking recently to attendees at the Maryland Governor’s Grants Conference in College Park, Md., Monique Booker, audit partner with SB and Company LLC, said that auditees seeking a smoother audit process should establish clear roles and responsibilities among their staff, including naming someone as a go-between for the entity and the auditor. “One of the things that’s most helpful when we come to audit is when we have an individual [with the auditee] who is our key go-to,” she said. This individual “helps to make sure we are talking to the right people, and if there are any difficulties, can figure out who is the best person to talk to.” Booker noted that because the auditor generally is not familiar with the personnel in the auditee’s organization, “it is really helpful to have someone who can help guide us and point us in the right direction … so that we are talking to the right people.”

Booker warned that inadequate staffing can lead to instances of noncompliance with grant requirements. For example, pass-through entities may receive single audit findings when they do not have enough personnel, or don’t even make the effort with their available staff, to effectively monitor their subrecipients. Findings also can stem from incomplete, outdated or nonexistent policies and procedures; inadequate staff training and education; information not being retained in award management systems; the lack of documentation and an audit trail to support claimed expenses; and the perception that internal control systems are not necessary. “These are all situations that may be root causes of having a finding,” she explained.

To help auditees better prepare for a single audit, Booker discussed some tasks auditors will follow when conducting the audit, and highlighted associated auditee responsibilities. She noted that auditors will first want to understand the auditee’s program(s). “Your program staff is living the program day-to-day, and we [as auditors] are coming to understand what you [as the auditee] are doing,” she said. “What is the program that you are running? What are the challenges that you are encountering when it comes to running that program? We want to know if you are dealing with entities outsider your agency (i.e., subrecipients). We’re really just trying to get an understanding of all the [aspects] of that program.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time here.)