Date: Thursday February 26, 2015
Location: Menger Hotel, San Antonio TX
Audit Report: What did the different groups decide?
After a day and a half of working with raw data, each group had to come up with a “group answer” about what they would do. The point was to emphasize that in looking at the same data with the same set of rules, we can all come up with different answers. If you want my bulleted notes about this part of the meeting, and a copy of the raw data we were working with, email me and I’ll send it over. Here, I have inserted a summary to keep things simple.
All of the groups wanted more information.
While everybody had to determine if the records provided were “adequate and complete” or “inadequate and incomplete” or some variation there of, everybody wanted more data to work with.
All of the groups would give the carrier an opportunity to respond.
Even after all of the mock questions and answers, there were still more questions and gaps to fill. There were miles in non-contiguous states to explain and bulk fuel to account for. While some auditors felt comfortable making an adjustment of one kind or another, I didn’t talk to anyone who said they wouldn’t give the carrier time to respond and plug up those holes.
All of the groups had suggestions for new/improved internal controls.
There were lots of ideas for how this company could better protect itself. One was a weekly, monthly or annual reconciliation of all of the data. In doing this, the gaps we found could have been discovered and fixed by the carrier before auditors got involved. Another idea was to provide more education for the people actually doing the work. All of the suggestions came with the caveat that “we can’t tell you how to run your business, but these things might help you next time.”
After all the groups had a turn, a clarification was made that if we are provided with ALL the data, then it is inadequate and incomplete. But you can ask for more data. If you asked for and received more data, then it could perhaps be adequate. A state official stood up and said “adequate does not mean perfect” but if an analysis has been done with no results, then “that time was wasted.” The auditors are trying to strike a balance between being fair and taking care of things in a timely way.
The final quote of the day was “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Everyone laughed of course, but the spirit was there in the room. All of the auditors I spoke to were interested in teaching, helping, and giving second chances to the carriers who were equally willing to learn and work with the auditors.
When all of that was done, and all four groups had shared their opinions, NATSA member Sandy Johnson did one last mock session about recordkeeping with Jeff Hood. She wanted auditors to help the carriers understand why audits happen at the beginning of the meeting, and more specifically, why internal controls are necessary and helpful.
Sandy suggested that if they had started their audits with this brief explanation, it would set the tone of the audit before it began, and everything would go smoother as a result.
In the end – about 40% of the room thought that the records were adequate and 60% thought the records were inadequate. The moderators emphasized that the goal of the workshop was to have a level playing field – and this 40/60 split doesn’t make a level playing field.
Town Hall Meeting
There was a little bit more discussion about the IFTA ballots and an attorney (I didn’t get his name but he said he was the chair of the attorney committee for the states) came by to offer his opinion on the ballots. If there was any drama in this workshop it was centered around these ballots.
Overall, I thought the meeting was fun, informative, and very helpful to me. I’m not an IFTA expert by any account, so I did a lot of listening. Did you go to the workshop? What did you think?
Written by Casey Bullard