CPB IG audit finds Illinois station should return CSG funds

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Illinois Public Media miscalculated its nonfederal financial support in fiscal year 2017, leading to an overpayment of more than $67,000 for its FY19 Community Service Grant, according to a March 28 CPB Inspector General’s audit.

IG Mary Mitchelson recommended in the audit that CPB recover $67,575 from the dual licensee in Urbana licensed to University of Illinois.

The audit found that Illinois Public Media overstated indirect administrative support, or operational costs covered by institutional licensees such as maintenance, custodial work, waste disposal, payroll, purchasing and human resource services.

Illinois Public Media overstated its FY17 indirect administrative support by $947,474 through miscalculations such as including costs that did not provide essential benefits to the station, according to the audit.

A joint subcommittee of CPB’s TV and radio CSG review panels is examining how indirect administrative support is figured, according to a March 27 memo to stations. The IG’s office advised CPB last year to clarify its rules after it found several other stations had struggled with the accounting.

“The challenge is how to acknowledge the value of IAS given that the complexity of calculating it may contribute to errors,” wrote Ted Krichels, CPB station development SVP, in the memo. Krichels said indirect administrative support was used to calculate $11 million in incentive grant funds for FY19 CSGs.

Illinois Public Media also mistakenly reported $12,743 in noneligible NFFS revenues, including $8,203 in sales of donated vinyl records and $4,540 related to the annual Farm Assets Conference, a collaboration with the university extension and other agriculture organizations.

In the station’s response to the audit, CEO Moss Bresnahan accepted the audit findings. He said staff from the station and university “took steps to correct these areas and worked with our independent auditor to ensure proper reporting of NFFS for FY18 and beyond.”

CPB management has 90 days to respond to the IG’s office regarding the audit findings.

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