The Financial Accounting Standards Board began testing a codification of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles that reorganizes thousands of U.S. GAAP pronouncements to make them easier to find.

The board launched a one-year verification of its FASB Accounting Standards Codification to give users time to provide feedback on the system as they use it to do research on accounting standards. The system includes statements from FASB, the American Institute of CPAs and the Emerging Issues Task Force.

The system reorganizes the standards and guidance so users don't have to check multiple sources. It structures the system into consistent topics, subtopics and sections. GAAP pronouncements are organized into about 90 accounting topics. FASB plans to provide real-time updates as new standards are released.

The codification content has not yet been approved as authoritative, however. After FASB addresses the issues raised by users during the feedback process, it will formally approve the codification.

FASB Chairman Robert Herz told attendees at the Global Public Policy Symposium in New York that the codification effort united the disparate formats previously used. The effort also helped expose rules that contradicted each other. "We've seen the enemy and it is us," he said.

The AICPA applauded the release of the codification. "For a long time, many users have said that GAAP is confusing," said Barry Melancon, AICPA president and CEO, in a statement. "The codification represents a simplification of the enormous body of accounting standards. It renders GAAP more understandable and accessible for research."

The AICPA is encouraging its members to use the codification in the course of their daily work. The institute also plans to create professional development courses to help educate members about the codification. To access the codification, go to http://asc.fasb.org.

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