Supervisors delay action on phone bill audit plan

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Lincoln County supervisors tabled further discussion on thepossibility of having their communications system audited toclarify a few technical issues Monday.

Carl Overton, a senior auditor for the TeleCom Audit Group, toldthe board he believed his company could save the county thousandsof dollars through telephone bill overcharges and an audit toreview current tariff charges and provisioning.

Overton said the company has audited several other counties inthe state and “never once have we not saved them money” through thetwo-step process.

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The company would be paid for their services by a percentage ofthe money saved, he said. Therefore, Overton said, it would notcost the county anything to participate if no savings werefound.

“If there’s no benefit from this audit, there is no fee for ourservices,” he said.

The company would receive 25 percent of refunds and credits and50 percent of any future savings for one year created by correctiveaction on tariff and coding recommendations.

County Attorney Bob Allen expressed some concern on possibletechnical issues regarding payment based on future earnings and theboard tabled further discussion until the matter could beclarified.

Should supervisors approve the work, the company would firstreview the county’s telephone bills for the past several years forovercharges and errors and seek those refunds.

“But that’s not where the carrot is,” Overton said. “The carrotis in excessive tariffs and over-provisioning.”

Secondly, they would audit all phases of the county’stelecommunications expenses, including local service, data lines,long distance service, existing contractual agreements, maintenanceagreements, cellular phones, pagers, and any others existingservice. They would ensure the county is on the most recent andleast cost tariff rates available.

As an example of that the audit company can do, Overton citedwork it did for Rankin County. The company reviewed that county’srecords for the past nine years and brought in an initial check for$65,000 on overcharges and errors and $7,000 a month in savingsfrom changing their tariff options.

However, the company does not make any changes, Overton said.After the review, it provides supervisors with their options andmakes recommendations.

“You are in control the whole time,” Overton said.