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Audits, Reporting and Program Evaluation

Written by Ann Wittmann

As fall sets in and the family rakes leaves, winterizes lawn equipment and brings out the snow blower, I can be found nestled in piles of paperwork at the office preparing for the Wyoming Beef Council’s (WBC) annual independent financial review. After 14 audits – all without findings, I’m comfortable enough with the process that I could spare some time to help in the yard, but honestly, it’s more fun for me organize paperwork than it is to play with the lawn equipment. In truth, the family knows I’m hiding out, and they are grateful. The farther I am from motorized equipment and flammable fuel, the longer we’ll all live. 

An annual financial audit conducted by an independent certified public accountant is required of every qualified state beef council.  Reviews are due to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), which is responsible for the certification of qualified state beef councils, as well as the implementation of the provisions of the Beef Promotion and Research Act and Order. 

Along with the audit, CBB also requires a statement of negative assurance that nothing came to the auditor’s attention to indicate that WBC was not in compliance with the provisions of the Beef Promotion and Research Act and Order. WBC must also provide a statement of revenues and expenses in the CBB’s specific “Full Dollar” forma, a schedule of actual expenditures versus budgeted amounts and a full review of the financial statements of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the beef checkoff’s largest contracting organization, and the United States Export Federation, a sub-contractor of NCBA. The review of the audited financial statements of these two organizations is an important step in ensuring accountability of beef checkoff contractors.   

It should also be said that the budget and marketing plan approved by WBC are also reviewed by CBB to ensure that the state portion of the beef checkoff dollar is be spent within the guidelines of the Beef Promotion Act and Order.   

Although I’ve been through the process numerous times, I am surprised by how much the audit varies each year. And it should. It’s always beneficial for new blood to look at standard operating procedures, internal controls and operational details in a fresh new way. Even though the WBC has contracted with McGee, Hearne and Paiz, LLP for several years, each year, the WBC audit is done by a different certified public accountant within the firm. Perhaps I am a little “touched,” but in spite of the scurrying, copying, scanning, meeting, highlighting, discussing and lugging of boxes, I find the audit requirements soothing and reassuring. Simply knowing that the audit is coming is comforting, and there is no better dance than the happy dance that erupts when a clean audit is in-hand. 

WBC also takes this end-of-year accountability a step farther by evaluating each and every program conducted with checkoff dollars and measuring the success of those programs against the specific, measurable and time-bound goals established in each year’s marketing plan. This is no easy task, and we commend our outside contractors who have risen to the challenge by paying close attention to measurables and ultimately, the WBC strategic goals. 

I’m happy to report that the audit, the Fiscal Year 2015 Program Evaluation document and the WBC Annual Report are available for viewing or download on the publications page of the WBC web site, found at wybeef.com/publications.aspx.

Happy holidays to all, and let’s celebrate another year of beef checkoff success and accountability.