Preparing for Grant Audit
The past couple of weeks we have been helping a client prepare for an audit. It’s not an EPA audit, it’s a State audit of a CDBG grant. However, this started me thinking about how truly unprepared some people, companies and municipalities must be when it comes to audits. We have not gone through one of the State’s, but have gone through other audits, including the EPA. Despite this, and trying to cross our T’s and dot our i’s, it’s still a little unnerving.
So just how do you prepare for an audit? Take a deep breath. If you have been trying to follow the regulations, you shouldn’t have a problem. The first thing to do is find out what you’re being audited for. Is it for a specific time frame? Is it for a specific project or is this a general records audit?
Set Up the Appointment
DO NOT BLOW OFF SETTING UP A DATE FOR THE AUDIT. DO NOT BLOW OFF THE AUDIT. The audit will not go away. Put on your big girl or big boy pants and deal with it like an adult. Blowing off setting up the audit or blowing off the audit completely will not bode well for you and then you will be forced to have the audit at their convenience. If that happens they will be a lot less likely to work with you. They are rational people. They do understand about people’s schedules and time constraints. If you sincerely cannot make the first appointment that is suggested to you, it’s ok to say, “I’m not available that day, but I’m available the rest of the week.” Make a suggestion as to time frames that will work with your schedule. That will go over better than saying, “I’m not available,” and not addressing it any further.
Get Records in Order
Next step, get your records in order. Neatness counts! Regardless of what governing body may be auditing you, audits go more smoothly if your files are in order. Often times, there is a check list that has created of the files the entity expects you to have. An example is the EPA Renovator, there is a checklist at the end of module 7 in the manual. Follow the list. In an ideal world, all the paperwork will be in a folder for each case. We all know, the world is not ideal. DO NOT FABRICATE ANY MISSING PAPERWORK. Do try to find and / or complete any missing paperwork for you cases. DO NOT FABRICATE PEOPLE’S SIGNATURES OR FALSIFY LABORATORY RESULTS. This will create a whole new ugly situation which will lead to months if not years of investigation. Your work and your life will be under a microscope. Do try to find a rational explanation for why the paperwork is missing or not filled out completely.
Make sure that your certification(s) and the company’s certification(s) and license(s) are current.
Day of the Audit
The day of the audit, stay calm. I know it’s so much easier to say than do. One of my colleagues says, ‘Audits go easier with muffins & cookies.” There’s some truth to that. You don’t need to run out and buy muffins and cookies for the audit. However, maintaining composed during the audit, answering their questions, asking questions when you don’t understand what’s being asked of you is key. If your mindset is antagonistic from the get go, it makes the audit that much more stressful for everyone.
You may politely disagree with an auditor. For example, a few members of Lead Safe, LLC have their EPA lead supervisor certificates. The first time we were audited, in 2000, by the EPA, they asked to see a lead abatement report. My colleague told them, “We don’t do abatement.” They asked again. He repeated, “We don’t do abatement. We’re a consulting firm. We have lead supervisors for writing job specs.” (At the time it was acceptable to have a lead supervisor certificate for writing job specs.) That was sufficient to clear up the disagreement.
During the Audit
During the audit, answer the questions that are asked and supply the paperwork that is asked for – nothing more. It sounds simple enough. The idea is that you do not want to open yourself up to further scrutiny. Also, idle conversation or lengthy presentations only hinder the progress of the audit. It wastes everyone’s time and makes the audit drag on. Remain courteous and polite, it doesn’t have to be all yes or no answers, but they don’t want to hear endless stories about how something went hopelessly wrong on a case. This may open you up to further investigation as well. Be honest!
Believe it or not, those auditors aren’t there to give you a hard time. They don’t groove on finding mistakes. Oftentimes, it’s more paperwork for them if they do find mistakes. Take criticisms constructively. If they have information to give you to help you, take it. Again try to keep a pleasant demeanor.
Call Lead Safe, LLC.
Still nervous about being audited? You can call Lead Safe, LLC, Phone: 315-471-3210 or visit our website. Lead Safe, LLC provides a service were we can help you go over your files and what to expect in an audit.
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