The Governmental Accounting Standards Board has just released its new five-year strategic plan, an effort that kicks off with a series of sweeping surveys on the board's standing with its constituency, as well as a barometer of its progress. Within the next three months, the board will issue the first in the planned survey series, with the inaugural one establishing a baseline on such questions as the percentage of governments that prepare financial statements in accordance with GASB standards, the percentage of auditors who are satisfied with the quality of those standards, and the percentage of users of government financial information who are satisfied with what they get. The new plan, which will guide the board until 2009, offers nothing radically different, but it does include a subtle shift to more emphasis on communication. Given that the effectiveness of communication is difficult to measure, the board will use surveys to track and measure results. Separate surveys will go to government financial officers, auditors, citizens, and other constituent groups who use governmental financial statements. GASB Chairman Robert Attmore said that it's too soon to know which surveys will go out first, but the first should be in the mail before summer. "We're in the accountability business," Attmore said. "We're encouraging other folks to be more open and transparent and try and communicate better about their performance, service efforts and accomplishments, so I thought it was important that we walk the talk." The plan also calls for GASB to encourage more public participation in the process of developing standards. The board will expand and diversify the pool of people called on to serve on task forces and advisory committees. Attmore explained that the board's previous strategic plans specified directions but lacked specific outcomes and performance measures.

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