New resource identifies best practices for small and attractive assets

mobile_tech-202676950.jpgRecently, the Performance Center provided several resources on accounting for capital assets to help local governments with financial reporting. Another group of assets, which fall below a government’s capitalization threshold, should also be considered when establishing and evaluating asset policies and other internal controls. In Washington, we frequently refer to these as “small and attractive assets,” but they these could be described using different terminology. For example, the Government Finance Officers Association refers to them as “controlled capital-type items” in its best practice guidance. Continue reading

Come try our new, improved Local Government Financial Reporting System

2018-04-26_LGFRS_publish_snapshotAs a part of our continuing commitment to making information about local government operations around the state more transparent and accessible, we have updated the look and feel of our Local Government Financial Reporting System, or LGFRS. Our Office has long provided unaudited financial data filed by local governments on our website via LGFRS. This same tool has a new look and is now even easier to use and understand. Continue reading

Kenmore showcases love of community

At the Office of the Washington State Auditor, one of our primary functions is to evaluate the finances of governments across the state. But did you know that what we do goes beyond the bottom line, and into the very heart of what makes a government function well and connect to its residents? This emotional connection is what is at the heart of our newest video, “For the Love of Kenmore.” It’s about helping local governments in Washington find, as Kenmore City Manager Rob Karlinsey puts it, “value beyond the purely financial.”

In 2015, the City of Kenmore invited Peter Kageyama, a community development consultant and author of “For the Love of Cities,” to speak. The goal was to develop what Peter calls the “emotional capital” for both the people of Kenmore and the public servants who work to make Kenmore a great place to call home. The City invited engaged residents to hear Peter speak, and a new private-public collaboration was born, with amazing results.

Fast-forward to 2016, when the Government Performance Consortium (GPC) (a collaboration between the State Auditor’s Office, University of Washington-Tacoma and the Municipal Research and Services Center) invited Kageyama to come to speak at several cities across the state. You can watch that video summary here. After that event, many governments reached out to GPC asking how they, too, could learn more about creating this type of emotional investment in their government — to engage residents and increase trust in their government, and thereby to work better together.

This video shows one response to that demand — that along with good financial management practices, sound budgeting guidance and performance improvements, local governments can find a path toward creating meaningful (and, dare we say, loving ) relationships with the people they serve. For more information about this, and other assistance for local governments, please visit our Performance Center page.

Washington Auditor’s acclaimed Financial Intelligence Tool to be an example of leading practice at Pew Charitable Trust national conference

Who is using FIT?

The Office of the Washington State Auditor is a national leader in developing and applying tools to assess and display information about local governments’ financial condition. That’s why the Pew Charitable Trust has invited the Office of the Washington State Auditor to speak at its State and Local Fiscal Health Workshop on February 27 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The workshop will bring together state officials from across the country to help staff at the Massachusetts Division of Local Services as they work to improve the state’s municipal fiscal data dashboard and to allow officials from all the states to exchange ideas.

Washington’s Financial Intelligence Tool (FIT), a unique local fiscal health tool and dashboard, is of particular interest to the participants as they seek to improve their own fiscal data visualizations. Designed to help local governments understand information about their financial health, FIT received the 2016 National State Auditors’ Association (NSAA) Award for Excellence in Accountability. Since then, local governments across Washington have used FIT to gain insight into their financial condition and make sound fiscal decisions based on that data.

 

SAO’s Performance Center: Leaner name, but excellent service is the same

The Local Government Performance Center has been renamed The Performance Center. Local governments can expect the same excellent training, technical assistance and resources that SAO has long provided to help improve performance and effectiveness. The Performance Center hosts Lean Academies, creates financial tools and shares online resources to help governments improve the value of their services to residents. For questions or inquiries into how The Performance Center can help, call (360) 725-5621 or email performance@sao.wa.gov.

 

Financial management policies and resources

Overwhelmed Student  Or BusinessmanImplementing effective internal financial policies can be challenging for local governments of any size, which is why the Performance Center teamed up with the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) to simplify the process. This new online database for financial management policies includes best practices, real-world comparative tools and more—all designed with local government needs in mind.

The tools available on MRSC’s website are meant to be responsive to the complex internal financial considerations of any local government—from the largest cities to the smallest mosquito districts. Using these tools, local governments will be able to get a handle on their financial resources and implement policies that provide value to the community, protection to their employees, and reduce financial risk. You can access the database here.

If after going through all these resources, you still need help or have questions, our Performance Center team is here for you. You can reach us at (360) 725-5621​ or performance@sao.wa.gov.

The State Auditor’s Office and MRSC expand financial policy guidance

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(Repost from MRSC’s blog. Original available here.)

By Toni Nelson, MRSC

Financial policies are an essential component of any local government’s financial health, but financial policy needs vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Different types of entities (cities, towns, counties, and special purpose districts) have different needs depending on size, scope of activities, organizational and staffing structures, contractual and program structures, and the governing body’s values and priorities. A boilerplate, one-size-fits-all approach will not work – but how do you know what policies you need, or what approach is right for your jurisdiction?

Well, MRSC is here to help! Working in partnership with the State Auditor’s Office Local Government Performance Center, we’ve just launched a series of online resources to help local governments in Washington State develop and adopt effective financial policies and procedures, as well as complying with SAO’s policy requirements as currently prescribed by BARS and recommended during audits. Continue reading

The State Auditor’s Office is partnering up to simplify your annual reporting requirements

wa_highway_emptyThe State Auditor’s Office and the Department of Transportation (WSDOT) have been working together supported by the County Road Administration Board and the Washington State Association of Counties to eliminate duplicate reporting. Currently, counties and cities in Washington State are required to submit an annual street report to WSDOT in June. The data reported in this street report is duplicative of revenues, expenditures and debt information reported to the State Auditor’s Office in the annual financial report submission due at the end of May. Many counties and cities have requested to only submit this information once; we are working to make that happen. Continue reading