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

We value local government feedback

The Budgeting, Accounting, and Reporting System (BARS) roundtables are underway in various locations all over the state.  Discussion in these free three hour meetings presented by the State Auditor’s Office, includes many topics such as: Information on changes to the BARS manual,   a preview of requirements for upcoming GASB standards, demonstration of the Financial Analysis Tool (FIT), and discussion of other valuable resources and trainings free to local governments. We held the roundtables last year all across the state, and were very pleased to see the high turnout and interaction from participants. This year, we changed the roundtable format slightly to encourage even more in-depth interaction, as we value your opinions.img_5520

Roundtables are a great opportunity for you to ask questions and network with peers. Plan to come and share your ideas and suggestions. We look forward to hearing from you about how we can better be of help and improve to our services.  The roundtables continue through December 15, 2016 in various locations and space is available so please  check the upcoming schedule and sign up for one near you.

New checklist for Cash Basis financial statements

Checklist screen capture.JPGThe State Auditor’s Office is responsible for examining the financial affairs of all local governments in the state. We conduct more than 2,000 audits of local governments each year. Using the results of those audits, our Office then evaluates the overall patterns and that were reported. The audit exception that has been identified most frequently in the past several years is a lack of internal controls over accounting and financial reporting. Continue reading

Who’s using FIT (Financial Intelligence Tool)?

Who's using FIT graphicUnderstanding a government’s financial health can be complex. A variety of financial ratios and indicators can help officials monitor their government’s financial status, but no single indicator, grade or score gives a complete representation of the government’s situation. That is why the Local Government Performance Center at the Washington State Auditor’s Office has developed a Financial Intelligence Tool (FIT) to help officials regularly assess and monitor their government’s financial health. Continue reading