Cindy Conger, Chief Financial Officer and head of the Finance Section, wrote this column.
In October, a team of auditors from KPMG made themselves comfortable on the 4th floor of Wilson Hall. The independent public accounting firm was beginning an audit of Fermi Research Alliance LLC’s financial statements, which include Fermilab’s activity under FRA’s contract with DOE. Over several months the team reviewed financial transactions and procedures in areas such as property, plant and equipment, accounts receivable, payroll, accounts payable, cash and inventory. Last week KPMG issued an unqualified “clean” opinion, attesting that our financial statements are fairly stated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. FRA/Fermilab and its predecessor have received clean opinions on its financial statements for more than 25 years.
The laboratory also conducts our own audits and assessments to check whether all i’s are dotted and all t’s are crossed. For instance, each year the dedicated Internal Audit staff spends a considerable amount of time and effort looking for “unallowable costs.” These are charges for items such as food that by federal rules cannot be paid for using government funds. Last fiscal year Internal Audit found less than $50 of unallowable costs out of the over $400 million the laboratory spent. Of course, these amounts were promptly repaid.
These audits, assessments and reviews are a very important part of the Finance Management System under FRA’s Contractor Assurance System—they are tools to make sure that we are good financial stewards of the resources our nation provides, and they invariably show the fiscal responsibility of our employees. Without the conscientious attention and cooperation of our dedicated employees in following the laboratory’s business procedures, we could not achieve such consistently favorable reports from these assessments.