The Schools and Libraries Division has posted new information on its Web site, designed to provide applicants and service providers with more detailed information on how to be prepared for an audit.
The postings include a summary of auditors’ findings from the SLD’s most recent round of audits, involving a sample of 79 beneficiaries and the funding commitments they received for the 2000 funding year. In general, these auditors found many of the same issues that previous auditors had found, including a lack of adequate documentation and instances in which applicants were not using services or equipment in eligible ways or at all.
The SLD also compiled what it described as “best practices” for both applicants and service providers to follow to be prepared for an auditor’s visit. While this information did not carve out any new ground in terms of program rules, some of the suggestions likely go farther than the practices currently followed by applicants and service providers. For instance, both service providers and applicants were advised to keep track of any information provided by a service provider before a Form 470 is posted.
The SLD also provided much more specific guidance to service providers on how invoices should be prepared to pass muster with its invoicing department. Service providers were specifically instructed not to bill the SLD until they have also billed the applicant. In addition service providers were advised to:
• Include sufficient detail on their customers’ bills to identify the specific services provided, when the services were provided, and the cost of the services. The SLD said that simply describing services as “eligible E-rate services” is not sufficient.
• Indicate on the customer’s bill the make, model, and serial number for any equipment provided.
• Use the same nomenclature on the customer bill as on the Item 21 Attachment for the Form 471. Service providers don’t normally see that attachment unless they help the applicant prepare it, or request it after it is submitted.
The documents will be incorporated into the Reference section of the SLD site and are now available on its home page at www.sl.universalservice.org.