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Government

National Defense Authorization Act Raises Micro-Purchase and Simplified Acquisition Thresholds

By | Accounting, Government, Nonprofit | No Comments

If you work with tribes or are part of a tribal government, you should closely follow the changes made to the National Defense Authorization Act. On June 30, 2018, the NDAA issued changes that  increased the minimum thresholds for micro purchases and simplified acquisition.  These changes impact many individuals and groups, as well as impact tribal governments.

Raising the minimum threshold should ease some of the reporting burden on those receiving federal funds.

What Are the Exact Changes?

  • The threshold for micro-purchases is increased from $3,500 to $10,000
  • The threshold for simplified acquisitions is increased from $100,000 to $250,000

What Should You Do?

Groups currently receiving federal awards, including tribal governments, may wish to immediately revise internal procurement policies so that they can implement the new thresholds.

Memorandum M-18-18 also outlines changes for institutes of higher learning, nonprofit research organizations, and independent research organizations that wish to use a micro-purchase threshold higher than $10,000.

Specific Recommendations

There are some specific recommendations that can help you follow the new guidelines as stated in M-18-18.

  • Micro-purchase: You should include purchases when the aggregate dollar amount does not exceed $10,000. It may be helpful to distribute micro-purchases fairly among qualified suppliers if you can. You don’t need competitive quotes if management determines that the price is reasonable. Document a definition of how you define ‘reasonable’ prices so that you have something to reference to confirm your choices.
  • Small purchases: You can use simplified acquisitions for the purchase of property services that do not exceed an establish amount pursuant to 200.88 in the Uniform Guidance. This also includes purchases up to $250,000 according to M-18-18. Informal purchasing procedures are acceptable under the guidelines, but you should always obtain several price or rate quotes before making your choice. This is just good business practice that will also help you comply with the new requirements.
  • Sealed bids: Large projects, such as construction projects, commonly exceed $150,000. A formal RFP or bid solicitation process is required. The fixed price, lump sum, or unit price should be awarded to the best bidder who conforms to all the material terms and provides the best price.
  • Competitive bids and proposals: A formal bidding or solicitation process is required. Competitive bids and proposals covers purchases over $150,000. Fixed-price or cost-reimbursement contracts, as well as a formal bid process, should be used when sealed bids aren’t appropriate or warranted. Awarding the contract should be based on the quality of the program with price being one, not the only, factor.
  • Sole source: You can only use the sole source designation when specific criteria is met. The criteria includes:
    • The product or service is only available from a single source – no one else offers what you need
    • There is a public emergency, and the fastest or best way to handle the emergency is to buy from one source
    • Federal warding agency authorization, or the awarding agency specifically authorizes a non-competitive procurement. This is usually after a written request from the non-federal entity.
    • There’s not enough or inadequate competition after you’ve asked for bids from multiple sources.

Can you request an even higher threshold than these new amounts? Yes, but with a catch. You’ll need to request approval from your institution’s appropriate Federal agency for indirect cost amounts. They will then assign you to the appropriate office inside the agency who can approve the new amount and maintain records indicating compliance with the new amount. It’s also a good idea to keep records on your own to support any moves you make when it comes to micro-purchases.

The world of nonprofit accounting is always changing, and new thresholds and guidelines like these are important to understand and follow. Welter Consulting can help you if you have any questions about these guidelines or other nonprofit accounting and software needs.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Personalized Training Plans Offer More Meaningful Professional Development

By | Abila, Accounting, Government, Grant Management, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Professional Development, Training | No Comments

CPAs, like other professionals, need an additional 40 hours of continuing education units annually to maintain their certification. Even if your industry does not require taking continuing education courses, everyone benefits from refresher courses and keeping abreast of changes and developments in their industry.

There is great value to designing a personalized plan for continuing professional development. These plans build a customized training roadmap for individuals, so that instead of taking a prescribed set of courses to meet your continuing education requirements, you create your own curriculum. Here’s why they work.

The Benefits of Personalized Professional Development Plans

  1. Relevant: Personalized course plans are highly relevant. They take into consideration your currently level of skills, interests, and needs, as well as those of your employer or company. You can choose the courses that are right for you and fit your personal learning goals.
  2. Flexible: You choose when you wish to take the courses, creating a plan that lets you take courses on the weekends, at night, or even during your lunch hour. You aren’t locked into a set schedule.
  3. Higher completion rate: Because the courses in your personalized plan are relevant and on a schedule that meets your needs, they tend to have a higher completion rate than other courses.
  4. More feedback and interaction: Some personal development plans include interaction with a mentor or trainer, providing more personalized feedback and interaction from the one to one mentoring.
  5. Noticeable difference: Personal plans offer you the added bonus of being able to identify specific goals to work towards. You can document progress toward your goals through milestones and checkpoints. Not only does this help you achieve them, it also helps you see both the ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture. You can see just how far you’ve come.

Does Personalized Professional Development Stand Alone?

Most companies blend both personalized development with general professional development activities,  offering both the benefits of personalization and group interaction that’s valuable for team building and shared knowledge.

Why Professional Development Matters

Lifelong learning is important for all professions. While we tend to think of professional development for teachers, accountants, financial managers, others benefit from continually sharpening their skills.

Professions change over time. New governmental and IRS regulations, for example, may change how accountants and financial planners manage specific tasks and functions. Yes, you can read about these changes in professional journals or online bulletins from the managing organizations, but in some cases, in-depth professional development through workshops, conferences, or classes may be the best way to completely understand something new.

Technology is changing how CPAs manage data, how sales and marketing professionals do their jobs, and how human resources managers organize their files. By taking additional professional development courses in technology-enhanced areas, you’ll be able to maximize the use of such  developments to create a stronger, better organization.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

What CPAs Can Learn from the Government’s 10-K

By | CPA, Government, Nonprofit | No Comments

Business entities must provide 10-Ks to their shareholders to report income and losses. Why not the federal government? The government does indeed provide an annual 10K to their shareholders – we, the people of the United States, whose taxes fund the government. The annual 10K of the United States is called the Financial Report of the United States, and while it’s a lengthy tome, it’s filled with useful information.

The primary focus of the report is on the government’s spending patterns for the year, but it also provides insights about trends that potentially affect the nation’s future. CPAs play an important role in establishing the policies of their companies, as well as within their communities. Understanding the trends and other information from the federal government can help you predict and respond to potential trends to protect the best interests of your clients and others.

The report contains findings from 150 departments within the Federal government, excluding the Federal Reserve System, which produces reports separately. The U.S. Government Office of Accountability and the Treasury typically release their findings within five months of the conclusion and release of this report.

Within the report, CPAs can find typical accrual-based reporting of financial statements with supporting information as well as nontraditional sustainability financial statement. Traditional accrual reports will seem familiar to most accountants since this is the typical reporting style used by companies. The outlier is the nontraditional reports, which is a unique feature of the federal government’s reporting system. These reports contain information, projections, and a discussion of the program in question.

Balance sheets, financial statements, total spending, and other documents will be very familiar to accountants and easy to understand. Learning the specific language of unique federal documents can be time-consuming, but the government produces an eight-page Citizens Guide along with the document that includes highlights in layman’s language. Although your specialized knowledge and training will help you decipher the 200+ reports in the document, the Citizen’s Guide may come in handy.

Another publication that you may find useful is called What’s at Stake? The CPA Profession on Fiscal Responsibility. This publication also includes information on how the federal document impacts CPAs.

So what might a CPA glean from these lengthy documents? Look for the following information to help you in your quest to manage your organization’s finances:

  • Spending trends, either up or down, in departments that impact your organization directly or peripherally.
  • Historic and current spending, and how it may affect the overall economy. An economic slowdown will impact your business in one way, improved productivity in another. Trend graphs make this section easy to understand.
  • How federal spending may impact the unique industry that your business or organization works in.

CPAs can be the translator for complex federal language to help those within their organizations understand the big picture of national finance. With so much taxpayer money at stake, it pays to be cognizant of federal spending and its impact upon your industry.

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. Your accounting software is an important component of the changeover from the older 1993 regulations to the new rollout. We can help you with the change and more.

Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113.