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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Audit focus for schools in fiscal year 2016

Pupil writing on the board at elementary school maths classSchool districts have asked the State Auditor’s Office to let them know in advance the areas they can expect auditors to emphasize in upcoming audits. This list will help your district prepare for audits examining FY 2016. If you have questions, your local audit team is available year round: they can answer technical questions and point you to additional guidance on specific areas of audit.  Continue reading

Filing workshops scheduled across Washington

The State Auditor’s Office is excited to bring back the popular annual report filing workshops. These workshops are designed to help local governments file their annual financial reports, and to meet the statutory requirement of submitting the report within 150 days of the close of their fiscal year.

New this year, participants can select a one-hour time slot for individualized assistance from a Local Government Support Specialist.  Laptops will be provided. If you bring the materials you need to file your report, you may be able to complete and file during your appointment.

If you are interested, sign up for a one-hour time slot online at the training EventBrite website. These workshops are offered at no cost to local government participants. If you have questions, please contact Heidi Walter at 360-725-5621. For more information and updates, visit our website.

GASB reporting model re-examination project

GASB_microphone_124632551.jpgThe Government Accounting Standards Board issued an invitation to comment on January 4 about potential changes to reporting of government funds, which GASB Chair Dave Vaudt recently described in a short video. The Board is seeking input on these ideas from local governments and other users during the preliminary stage of its project to re-evaluate the financial statement reporting model. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for all state and local governments nationwide is set by GASB in accordance with an open, due process.

The State Auditor’s Office encourages local governments to follow the Board’s activities and provide input on potential accounting standards they will eventually need to follow.

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Department of Retirement Systems contracts with CPA firm for GASB 68 audits

For the past three years we have worked with the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) to perform the GASB 68 census data audits at state and local government employers. We have enjoyed working with all of our state and local government partners to complete this important work for our state.

DRS recently contracted with Clifton, Larson, Allen, LLP (CLA) to perform this work going forward. This CPA firm has contracted with DRS for many years, including auditing the DRS CAFR.  DRS informed the State Auditor’s Office that they were happy  both with our work and the relationship we have developed–the decision to contract with CLA simply provides them with administrative efficiency by having one point of contact for all of the work performed.

DRS is currently working with CLA to determine which entities will be audited during the upcoming year. They are also working on communication that will go out to all state and local government employers. You can expect a similar timeline as in the past, with work beginning in January or February each year and wrapping up by August 31st. DRS will inform employers who have been selected for audit in January 2017, and CLA will contact you to schedule the engagement. If you have any questions you can contact employer support services at employersupport@drs.wa.gov

For further resources, please visit the DRS website.