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Reporting federal and state funds: The most tedious affair

Page history last edited by Kim Miller 4 years, 3 months ago

April 6, 2016




Joy Garretson (MS)


Hi everyone,


After a couple of years of struggling with this mathematical situation, I thought I’d put it to you! In Mississippi, we funnel federal funds to our libraries through LSTA grants, and then we give them state funds via personnel incentive grants, health insurance, and life insurance. We have all of the official payment information for both federal and state payments, but we ask each library system to report their numbers to us on their annual surveys. Last year, the numbers looked wonky to me, and some research showed me that many library systems were incorrectly reporting these numbers—sometimes by a few dollars, and sometimes by many thousands of dollars. For instance, the system I’m currently looking at didn’t include roughly $100,000 in state funds that they received from us last year. I think they didn’t include that money because the two payments totaling that amount were supposed to go towards their previous fiscal year expenses, but they didn’t file for the payments in time, etc., etc., etc.


Having gone through the tedious process of checking their numbers, finding differences, checking our numbers, and then emailing the library directors about these issues, I wonder if there might not be an easier way for me to go about this, such as making State aid (and maybe LSTA funds, though they’re better at reporting those correctly) a field that I populate for them on the report, using official records. What are your thoughts? What do you do in your states?




SDC Comments


Michael Golrick (LA)




I always prefill and lock “State Aid.” It is so much more accurate. Of course, this cycle it is Zero.


I try not to let them put in numbers that I know I have access to, and more accurately. That includes population and use of state databases. And never, never, let them add it up for you!


Megan Schulz (KS)


In Kansas, the only state money which a local library receives is State Aid. I prepopulate that answer and lock it from changes for every library in the state.


We also provide LSTA subgrants to libraries and I prepopulate that answer also within the Federal Government Revenue answer though I did not lock this answer as libraries may have received additional Federal Government Revenue (though unlikely from what I have discovered). Next year I am going to lock this answer that I will prepopulate for all libraries receiving any LSTA subgrant. The ability to edit will need to come through me so I can determine if it really is Federal money. I started prepopulating the Fed Govt Rev question last year, which was my first year, and discovered that libraries were under-reporting this funding and not putting it anywhere on the survey.


I also have worked with our Regional Library Systems to gather the total dollar figure which a library received from them and prepopulated on the libraries behalf. I think I had 4 out of the 7 Regionals able to provide this information. At least 1 Regional thanked me for requesting this of them as it made for a better report for their own usage, though it was work to figure out how to track things differently on their end.


Hope that helps,


Amanda Johnson (NC)


I’ve been struggling with exactly the same issue!  We also give LSTA grants and State Aid payments.  We have a separate spot for LSTA grant funds and State Aid on our survey and libraries have always been asked to self-report.  I found large discrepancies in both fields this past year but especially with the LSTA funds. Many libraries reported the awarded grant amount not the actual reimbursed amount or reported money that had been received in a different fiscal year. Since we have records for all of these payments, I will be prefilling both fields and locking them this year. I’ve already notified the libraries of this change and so far there has been no push back.


Jamie Mott (IL)


In Illinois I was told to leave the fields open and unlocked for the library to enter.  The reasoning is that the state runs so far behind on issuing payments that even though we may award them a certain amount in FY16, they may only receive partial payment (or no payment) prior to the end of the year.  This is especially true with our construction project grants where they get multiple checks released at different benchmarks of the project.


That said, I agree that they have no idea how and where to count things, so if you can do it yourself, do it.


Joy Garretson (MS)


Thanks, y’all! I am glad to hear that entering this data myself isn’t a crazy idea. Our grants department typically doesn’t run behind on these payments, so I think I’d be safe in entering them and having them be accurate.


Scott Dermont (IA)


“And never, never, let them add it up for you!”


That is the best piece of advice that I have ever heard!


Jamie McCanless (WI)




In Wisconsin we only provide state aid to our regional public library systems, so it’s simpler to verify state aid payments in those 17 reports. In general, though, where funds to go libraries—for example LSTA grant awards and state aid distributed by the regional systems—I track and validate the annual report amounts from first recipient to last expenditure. Necessary but time consuming. It’s also unavoidable when I compile the year’s Wisconsin Public Library Service Data so that revenue and expenditure amounts are not included multiple times in state and regional system level financial data.



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