By the time this column is printed, many will be trying to comply, audit or otherwise cope with the Financial Accounting Standards Board's new standard on pensions.While there is no doubt that SFAS 158 is a huge improvement, no one should complacently think that it takes care of accounting issues related to pensions and other post-retirement employee benefits. Much remains to be done to make financial reports more realistic and useful because, in fact, generally acceptable accounting principles for pensions and OPEBs are almost totally unacceptable, not only when they are compared with reality, but also when they are contrasted with GAAP in other areas.

In case you missed it, Phase 1 of the project was completed last fall with the issuance of SFAS 158. The changes are limited to the balance sheet, specifically with recognition of a net pension item and additional components of accumulated comprehensive income. Don't get us wrong - this is a quantum improvement in quality. However, don't overlook the fact that Phase 2 is both needed and coming.

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