Rural Utilities Service, USDA.
Notice of confirmation of direct final rule.
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) hereby gives notice that comments were received regarding direct final rule, 7 CFR Part 1773, Policy on Audits of RUS Borrowers; Management Letter, and confirms the effective date of the direct final rule. This notice also serves to address the comments received.
The direct final rule published in the Federal Register on May 21, 2001 (66 FR 27829) is effective July 5, 2001.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Richard Annan, Chief, Technical Accounting and Auditing Staff, Program Accounting Services Division, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., STOP 1523, Washington, DC 20250-1523. Telephone: 202-720-5227.
Title 7 part 1773 implements the standard RUS security instrument provision requiring RUS electric and telecommunications borrowers to prepare and furnish to RUS, at least once during each 12-month period, a full and complete report of its financial condition, operations, and cash flows, in form and substance satisfactory to RUS; audited and certified by an independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA), satisfactory to RUS, and accompanied by a report of such audit, in form and substance satisfactory to RUS.
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) published a direct final rule on May 21, 2001, at 66 FR 27829, in the Federal Register revising the requirements for the management letter. Section 1773.33(c) is revised to address continuing property records (CPRs) rather than the term plant records. In addition, the requirement that the CPA state whether the CPRs have been established, is expanded wherein the CPA must state that the CPRs are established, maintained on a current basis, and are reconciled to the general ledger plant accounts. The requirements for the CPA to determine that the borrower secured RUS approval for the sale of plant in § 1773(c)(5) is expanded to include the sale, lease, or transfer of assets secured under the mortgage and to state whether the proceeds were handled in conformance with RUS requirements.
The following requirements under § 1773.33 are eliminated: (1) The requirement for the CPA to determine that loan funds were deposited in banks designated in the loan documents; (2) a corresponding requirement in the telecommunications management letter; (3) the requirement for the CPA to determine that the borrower has complied with the RUS requirement for approval of any lease of a building or land, standard traffic settlement agreement, billing and collecting agreements, toll pooling arrangements, directory service agreements, and joint-use agreement; and (4) the requirement for the CPA to determine borrower compliance with the requirement to maintain a net plant to secured debt ratio or a funded reserve for certain loans wherein the maturity period exceeds the economic life of the plant facilities being financed.
Section 1773.33, Management Letter, specifies the minimum requirements for the CPA's management letter. RUS borrowers have increasingly diversified into other utility and nonutility related activities through the formation of subsidiary and affiliated companies. RUS has need of information on investments in these subsidiary and affiliated companies to assist in its efforts to monitor loan security issues and respond to claims of cross subsidization. A new requirement for the CPA to provide a detailed analysis of borrowers' investments is therefore being added to the management letter requirements. The CPA is required to disclose certain general and financial information regarding each of a borrower's investments in subsidiary and affiliated companies accounted for on the cost or equity basis. This information should readily available in the borrower's investment subsidiary records.
In previous versions of part 1773 the sample reports, financial statements, and management letters were contained in four appendices, two for electric borrowers and two for telecommunications borrowers. Beginning with this revision of part 1773, the appendices will no longer be codified in the Code of Federal Regulations. The appendices will be available in new RUS Bulletin 1773-1, which will contain all of 7 CFR part 1773 and the appendices. Appendix A will contain the sample reports, financial statements and management letter for electric borrowers while Appendix B will contain similar sample for telecommunications borrowers. The exhibits of the management letters, which are included in the appendices, are attached to this notice for information only. Publishing part 1773 in bulletin form will provide the RUS audit policy in a user-friendly format. A single copy of this publication will be provided to all RUS borrowers and certified public accounts approved to perform audits of RUS borrowers and will be available at http://www.usda.gov/rus/ruswide.htm.
RUS received three comments on this direct final rule from one party, Kiesling Associates LLP, Madison Wisconsin, which RUS deemed to be not adverse. All of the comments were regarding the requirement to include a supplemental schedule of each investment in subsidiary and affiliated companies in the management letter as required in § 1773.33(i). A summary of their comments and the responses follows:
Comment: Keisling stated that the audited financial statements of an RUS borrower already include disclosures of equity method investments and similar information is reported in Part G of the RUS Form 479. In addition, RUS requires the submission of supplemental schedules of financial condition and statement of operations for each subsidiary for consolidated financial statements. Kiesling also noted that Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAP) also requires such disclosures.
Reply: The supplemental schedules containing the statement of financial condition and the statement of operations submitted with the audited consolidated financial statements contain only the information for the current and prior year for each subsidiary or affiliated company. However, if the investment is not considered material the supplemental statements are not required to be submitted with the consolidated financial statements. Only footnote disclosure would be required in such instances. The RUS requirement for the supplemental information regarding investments included in the management letter will provide a summary of the financial condition since inception for each individual Start Printed Page 37406subsidiary or affiliated company. For this reason RUS does not consider this information to be duplicative of similar RUS or GAAP reporting requirements. The information submitted with the RUS Form 479 is in the aggregate for all subsidiary companies.
Comment: Keisling also commented that similar disclosure requirements for investments accounted for on the cost method should not be required as such investments are typically not of a material nature. And if such investments were material they would be properly disclosed in the footnotes to the audited financial statements.
Reply: While investments accounted for on the cost method may or may not be material, RUS’ purpose for including similar disclosures for investments accounted for cost method is to provide a means for RUS to track the RUS borrowers' investments in rural infrastructure. When called upon to provide this information from Congressional and government oversight agencies, RUS has not been able to readily gather and summarize such data. The disclosure of all investments in subsidiary and affiliated companies, whether accounted for on the cost or equity method, will provide the appropriate information for such inquiries.
Confirmation of Effective Date
This is to confirm the effective date of July 5, 2001, of the direct final rule 7 CFR Part 1773, Policy on Audits of RUS Borrowers; Management Letter, published in the Federal Register on May 21, 2001, at 66 FR 27829.Start Signature
Dated: July 12, 2001.
Blaine D. Stockton,
Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
[FR Doc. 01-17933 Filed 7-17-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-15-P