It may seem belated, but the Governmental Accounting Standards Board has just recently gotten around to defining such fundamental accounting concepts as "asset" and "liability."It has also defined a pair of distinct financial statement elements that are new to accounting and whose definitions should clarify certain questions that have confounded governmental accountants and auditors for years.

These definitions of elements old and new are carefully worded philosophical essences derived after months of discussion in the board's broad, long-term project to develop a conceptual framework on which future standards will stand.

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