On site audits

From time to time, Verified Circulation conducts a number of audits at the premises of member publications. These on-site audits are conducted by the VC Auditor. Most are selected at random at no cost to the member, while others may be conducted at the request of the publisher or due to a concern raised by a third party. Getting ready for an on-site audit does not have to be a painstaking process. Here are a few tips to help ensure you are prepared.

Q: If my paper has been chosen to be spot audited, does that mean I am in trouble?
A: No. Spot audits are selected at random, with the expectation that each member will be subject to a spot audit once. One of the goals of the spot audit is to provide on-site guidance aimed at helping the member comply with the current VC policies and practices.

Q: How will I know if my publication has been selected for an on-site audit?
A: Your publication will be notified in writing, 30 days in advance of the actual audit period. You have the option of choosing the date and time within the audit period that is convenient for you and your staff.

Q: I havenÔÇÖt been selected for a spot audit, but IÔÇÖd like to be prepared just in case. What can I do on an ongoing basis to ensure the process goes smoothly?
A: Prepare for your audit by maintaining an organized filing system. Organize your files such that when a request is made for this information, you can immediately find it. Keep your press run certificates and all your circulation documents in one place. Have a central location in which to file dealer invoices, carrier payment records, printer invoices, statements of mailing from the post office and record of counter sales. If your paper keeps records tied in with your computer accounting, have them ready as well. If you have any questions about what is required for the audit, contact the VC Auditor.

Q: What can I expect during the audit?
A: The auditor meets with the circulation manager and publisher. He or she then reviews the completed Form X and the documentation provided for the six-month period. The auditor will check all printerÔÇÖs invoices to confirm the number of copies printed and postal receipts confirming the number of copies mailed to paid and non-paid subscribers. The auditor will also look at the current subscriber list and may select a few to check for payment.

All carrier and dealer information is checked, including the number of copies delivered, payroll and bank deposits. For controlled circulation, Form G is checked for returns and driverÔÇÖs signatures. The auditor will also drive to several of the street box locations to confirm that they exist and to see if there are any copies remaining in the box.

Counter sales are compared with the daily cash sheets, other paid recipients and sample copies are checked with the lists provided.

The auditor will also look at all editions/issues of the publication to ensure dates are correct, circulation figures being advertised are correct and that the VC logo is being used properly.

He or she may also ask for additional documents and information during the audit. This is a good opportunity to ask questions about new forms and required documentation, and also to discuss any issues or concerns you may have about the new policies and how they affect your record-keeping process.

Q: What happens after the audit?
Once the audit is completed, the auditor will discuss any discrepancies that have been found during the process. These findings will be included in the auditorÔÇÖs report. A copy of the auditorÔÇÖs findings will be forwarded to you together with the Audited Circulation Report.

The spot audit is a very positive experience for the majority of members. The on-site audit process is beneficial to