Statement Regarding Audit of Illinois Public Media by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

April 29, 2019
 

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), per its website, is “the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting and the largest single source of funding for public radio, television, and related online and mobile services, and its mission is to ensure universal access to non-commercial, high-quality content and telecommunications services. It does so by distributing more than 70% of its funding to more than 1,500 locally owned public radio and television stations.”

In early 2019, Illinois Public Media underwent a routine audit process with CPB. During the course of this audit, the CPB Inspector General’s auditor noted errors in the way indirect administrative support was calculated, according to their interpretation of the guidelines. Indirect administrative support is part of the formula CPB uses to calculate grants to stations and is essentially equivalent to the in-kind funds for operational costs that are covered by institutional licensees (in this case, the University of Illinois). These funds are then noted as part of the station’s non-federal financial support. Typical indirect administrative support includes the costs of custodial services, security, maintenance, waste disposal, payroll, purchasing, human resource services, and the like. 

However, CPB has admitted the indirect administrative support formula university licensees, such as Illinois Public Media, use is complex and confusing: “The challenge is how to acknowledge the value of IAS [indirect administrative support] given that the complexity of calculating it may contribute to errors,” wrote Ted Krichels, CPB station development SVP. (Source: Current, 4/4/2019)

In fact, CPB auditors themselves have asked CPB to clarify or rethink how stations report indirect administrative support: “The IG [Inspector General] recommended that CPB evaluate whether the basic method “remains an effective option for claiming IAS [indirect administrative support],” and consider developing another option similar to one used under current federal guidelines.” (Source: Current, 6/7/2018)

“Illinois Public Media abides by CPB’s guidelines; unfortunately, in this case, the guidelines for reporting were confusing,” said Moss Bresnahan, president and CEO of Illinois Public Media. “When we were made aware of the problems, steps were immediately taken to correct them.”

The core values of Illinois Public Media’s fiscal management are very good, Bresnahan continued, adding, “We have accepted the new interpretation of the guidelines, and will use those going forward.”

During the Inspector General’s audit of Illinois Public Media, the auditor found the station miscalculated its non-federal financial support resulting in an overpayment of more than $67,000 for the station’s Community Service Grant for fiscal year 2019 from CPB. The CPB Inspector General’s auditor made their recommendations in March 2019; as of April 29, 2019, Illinois Public Media awaits CPB’s final decision regarding the possible return of the overpayment to CPB.