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.

 

Name brand procurements versus sole source contracts

ProcurementMgmt_123770867.jpgLocal governments have the ability to specify a name brand during their procurement process. In these situations, the government should thoroughly document why only this specific manufacturer’s equipment is necessary to meet their operational needs, as well as why another manufacturer’s equipment could not substitute. This documentation should be maintained and periodically evaluated to ensure that the specific brand is still required.

For the procurement process, the local government should draft specifications of what they intend to purchase, and what specific brand is required. Based on the estimated cost of the purchase, the government would then follow applicable procurement processes.

It is important to note here that specifying a name brand during the procurement process is not the same as declaring a purchase sole source. Continue reading

BARS Manual receives regular update for 2018

It’s that time of year again! The updated 2018 version of the Budgeting, Accounting and Reporting System (BARS) Manual will be available on our website in the third week of December. While users may notice several changes in this update, the most significant revision to the 2018 BARS Manual centers on reporting schedules for cities and counties, and specifically Schedule 07 – Cash Disbursements, and Schedule 11 – Cash Activity. A new schedule, Schedule 06 – Summary of Bank Reconciliation, makes an appearance in the 2018 cash-basis manual to accommodate those changes to Schedules 07 and 11. Continue reading

Local governments turn to Office of the Washington State Auditor for cybersecurity help

cybersecurity_200880859Did you know that the State Auditor offers free, in-depth evaluations of local government’s cybersecurity systems? In an article published today, the Pew Charitable Trust details the cutting-edge role the Washington State Auditor has in ensuring the IT system security of local governments around the state. This service helps protect local governments and their residents’ sensitive data from increasingly sophisticated hacking attempts. Want to learn more about how the Office of the Washington State Auditor is a leader in cyber security work? Check out the City of Mill Creek’s IT security performance audit here.

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.

For 4th year in a row, more governments filing financial reports on time

Local governments are required to submit an annual financial report within 150 days after their fiscal year end under state law (RCW 43.09.230). Exhibit 1 illustrates that the number of governments meeting this requirement has increased for the fourth consecutive year. Exhibit 2 illustrates that 228 of the 302 governments that missed the filing deadline also missed the deadline in 2015.

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The State Auditor’s Office has emphasized the importance of filing timely annual reports and has provided assistance in a variety of ways. Most recently, we offered 27 free filing workshops statewide to help all local governments that were having difficulty meeting the requirement. Of the 350 governments that attended the workshops, 321 were able to file timely annual reports. This included 50 governments that did not meet the requirement last year.

We will continue to evaluate ways to increase the number of timely filings in the future. Please contact DuaneWalz@sao.wa.gov for questions or suggestions.

 

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

Auditor McCarthy: Financial reporting should be easy to read and understand

Since the original issuance of Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement 34 in 1999, the Office of the Washington State Auditor has found the resulting financial statement presentations to be unnecessarily complex, less timely and more costly for state and local governments to prepare and have audited. These presentations are also more challenging to understand.

Financial statements prepared by state and local government entities in the United States are longer than those prepared by other organizations in the United States and around the world, due to the use of different accounting methods (e.g. modified-accrual and full-accrual) within the presentation.GASBlettergraphic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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