The Big GAAP vs. Little GAAP debate rages on. An American Institute of CPAs' task force charged with examining private company financial reporting standards wants to begin a process to implement changes in generally accepted accounting principles for private issuer companies. "Fundamental changes should be made in the current GAAP standards-setting process to ensure that the financial reporting needs of private company constituents are met," read the report issued by the institute's task force. The task force, established last year and headed by former AICPA chairman James Castellano, made its determinations based on the input of some 3,700 business owners, public practitioners, financial managers, lenders, investors and sureties. The research was conducted by Omaha, Neb.-based MSR Group, an independent market research firm. "This group did not approach its research with a preconceived notion that issues or problems with GAAP financial reporting for private companies existed," Castellano said. "We wanted to understand if what many of us had been hearing was simply the opinion of a vocal minority or the true expression of concerns by stakeholders of private company financial reporting." Public issuers are required to prepare financials in accordance with GAAP, and privately held companies -- which comprise an overwhelming majority of the roughly 5 million companies in the U.S. -- have traditionally used GAAP as well, thus fueling the protracted public-versus-private-standards debate. The AICPA board -- subject to input from Council -- along with accounting standard-setter the Financial Accounting Standards Board and its overseer, the Financial Accounting Foundation, have agreed to collaborate on possible courses of action. However, FASB and the FAF neither endorsed nor rejected the task force's conclusions. The AICPA, the FAF and FASB agreed that any proposal would need to be fully exposed for public comment and debate. A complete copy of the task force report can be found at: http://www.aicpa.org/members/div/acctstd/pvtco_fincl_reprt/index.htm.
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