GASB working to address coronavirus impact on government accounting

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The Governmental Accounting Standards Board is working on several fronts to offer relief to state and local governments and other stakeholders in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and to help them identify accounting and financial reporting guidance that’s especially relevant right now, including delaying the effective date of some of its standards.

GASB said Monday it’s committed to supporting and assisting its stakeholders during this uncertain period. The board is reviewing a proposed Statement that would postpone the effective dates of provisions in certain pronouncements and will consider releasing it for public comment during a teleconference meeting on April 14. Its sister organization, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, is also planning to hold its own teleconference meeting on Wednesday to discuss the possible delay of some standards, along with other relief (see our story).

The GASB proposal tentatively has identified provisions that became effective or will become effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2018, through Statement No. 92, Omnibus 2020, and Implementation Guide No. 2019-3, Leases. In particular, that includes Statement No. 84, Fiduciary Activities, and Statement No. 87, Leases, along with their related Implementation Guides.

In all, the draft would postpone the effective dates of provisions in eight different statements along with five implementation guides. The exposure draft will still encourage early implementation of the standards, though, as it’s important to governments that already have implemented some of those provisions or intend to proceed with implementation under the original effective dates.

GASB has also been working on lengthening the effective dates of some of its other standards. During a meeting last month, GASB approved Statement No. 94, Public-Private and Public-Public Partnerships and Availability Payment Arrangements, which includes an extended effective date of reporting periods starting after June 15, 2022 — one year later than had been originally proposed. GASB plans to consider similar changes as it reviews upcoming drafts of final statements such as for subscription-based information technology arrangements) and due process documents (most notably, an exposure draft from the Financial Reporting Model Reexamination project).

GASB has decided to extend until June 30 the comment deadline for the exposure draft of a proposed concepts statement, "Communication Methods in General Purpose External Financial Reports That Contain Basic Financial Statements: Notes to Financial Statements." GASB will postpone the public hearing on that document. The hearing has been tentatively rescheduled for July 28, 2020.

GASB has also put on hiatus the stakeholder research activities it had planned, such as interviews and surveys, postponing them until at least June 1 (for pre-agenda research) and at least July 1 (for post-implementation review).

GASB said it will soon be posting a “toolbox” on its website to help governments and other stakeholders identify the guidance they can draw on to deal with the issues they are facing during this difficult period. In the meantime, GASB is encouraging its constituents to connect by using its website, including the GASB’s technical inquiry service, through which they can submit questions directly to GASB staff about standards implementation and other issues.

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