The Governmental Accounting Standards Board has issued an updated guide to help people better understand the financial statements of state and local governments.

An Analysts’ Guide to Governmental Financial Statements, 2nd edition, provides a primer for investment firms, rating agencies, institutional investors, mutual funds, bond agencies, and legislative, oversight and research organizations that need financial information about state and local government financial reports.

The guide is the third in a series of expanded and updated resources published this year by GASB, which sets accounting standards for nearly 90,000 local and state governments in the U.S.

The new version of An Analyst’s Guide combines the first edition with What Else You Should Know about Your Government’s Finances: A Guide to Notes to the Financial Statements and Supporting Information. The expanded second edition includes 125 annotated examples of financial statements, note disclosures and supporting schedules, including full sets of financial statements for a state government, municipality, school district and public university. It also includes an example of a complete management’s discussion and analysis.

The guide has also been updated to cover major new reporting requirements issued by GASB since the publication of the original guide in 2001. New topics include retiree health insurance, fund balance, derivative instruments, deposit and investment risk disclosures, along with a new statistical section. As with the first edition, the new guide includes a chapter on the basic tools of analyzing the finances of state and local governments, but with additional attention to risk, efficiency, retirement benefits, service capacity and revenue debt analysis.

“Analysts tend to be frequent users of governmental financial statements and they rely heavily on the reported financial information for decision-making or assessing accountability,” said GASB chairman Robert H. Attmore in a statement. “This comprehensive guide will help them better understand the information that can be found in those financial statements and will show how basic analytical techniques can be applied to assess financial position, liquidity, long-term solvency, fiscal capacity, and risk exposure.”

An Analysts’ Guide to Government Financial Statements, 2nd edition, can be ordered for $19.95 plus shipping by visiting the GASB store, or by calling the GASB Order Department at (800) 748-0659.

Another guide—What You Should Know about the Finances of Your Business-Type Activities—will be available in the months ahead. This new guide is devoted to the unique features of financial reporting, including the activities that governments operate similar to businesses by charging fees in return for service, such as public utilities, airports, public hospitals, and public colleges and universities.

In addition, the newly updated and revised editions of What You Should Know about Your Local Government’s Finances: A Guide to Financial Statements and What You Should Know about Your School District’s Finances: A Guide to Financial Statements are now available at the GASB store.

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