The Governmental Accounting Standards Board is asking for comments on how to improve the financial reporting model for government funds.

GASB released an invitation to comment Wednesday, in a document entitled “Financial Reporting Model Improvements—Governmental Funds,” to elicit feedback at an early stage of the project for reevaluating how state and local governments should report on their finances. GASB is asking for feedback by March 31, 2017.

The document addresses some potential improvements GASB uncovered during preliminary research evaluating how effective the existing standards are. Potential improvements could include changes in recognition approaches in the areas of measurement focus and the basis of accounting, the format of the governmental funds statement of resource flows, specific terminology, and reconciliation to the government-wide statements. For certain recognition approaches, there could also be changes in the statement of cash flows.

Sacramento's Capital Building
Capital Building in Sacramento, California

The document proposes three alternative recognition approaches for governmental fund financial statements: near-term, short-term and long-term financial resources. The three approaches range from a closer-to-cash approach to a closer-to-economic resources approach in an effort to help with decision-making about governmental funds information and assessing government accountability.

The project aims to consider improvements to only certain aspects of the existing financial reporting model for now, with further improvements in other parts of the model expected in future documents.

“This initial document in the reexamination of the financial reporting model lays out what two years of research indicated were the prime areas for improvement for governmental funds,” said GASB chairman David A. Vaudt in a statement. “This is a key opportunity for stakeholders to influence the direction of the board’s deliberations on the fundamental issues related to governmental funds.”

GASB is asking for written comments to be sent either via email to director@gasb.org or by mail to GASB, 401 Merritt 7, PO Box 5116, Norwalk, CT 06856-5116, addressing them to Director of Research and Technical Activities, referencing Project No. 3-25I.

GASB also plans to hold a series of public hearings and user forums on the invitation to comment:

Public Hearings

• April 28, 2017, Atlanta

• May 3, 2017, Dallas

• May 11, 2017, San Francisco

• May 21, 2017, Denver (in conjunction with the Government Finance Officers Association annual conference)

• May 24, 2017, at 401 Merritt 7, Norwalk, Conn.

User Forums:

• April 27, 2017, New York City

• May 12, 2017, San Francisco

• May 18, 2017, Washington, D.C. (in conjunction with the National Federation of Municipal Analysts annual conference).

The deadline for written notice of intent to participate in the sessions is March 31, 2017. More information is available in the invitation to comment.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.