The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) issued Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Concepts 5 (SFFAC5), Definitions of Elements and Basic Recognition Criteria for Accrual-Basis Financial Statements . The document defines assets, liabilities, net position, revenues and expenses.
SFFAC5 is the fifth in a series of concepts statements intended to set forth a framework of objectives and fundamentals on which financial accounting and reporting standards will be based. The statements do not actually establish new financial accounting standards.
“This foundation will ensure that the accounting standards lead to financial statements that provide information that is comparable across agencies and programs,” FASAB Chairman Tom Allen said in a news release.
The document is available at www.fasab.gov/codifica.html.
A GAO study of accrual budgeting determined that it does not provide enough information about the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges. Instead, increased reporting on long-term budgetary implications of major tax and spending programs should be required, the GAO said. The Senate Budget Committee asked the GAO to update its 2000 study of other nations’ experiences with accrual budgeting in order to determine how they are increasing attention to long-term fiscal challenges.
The study reviewed the use of accrual budgeting in Australia, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the U.K. While these countries have used accrual budgeting differently, in some cases to increase transparency and improve government performance, it has not been used to measure long-term fiscal challenges. Instead, many of the countries prepare fiscal sustainability reports to assess the overall sustainability of government finances.
The GAO recommends that accrual budgeting be explored for certain programs to ensure an informed incentive and budget decision-making process. Periodic reports on fiscal sustainability should also be required for the government as a whole, the GAO said. The report is available at www.gao.gov/new.items/d08206.pdf .