The User's Perspective
This article provides an overview of some of the website resources of interest to users. The latest information about projects on the GASB’s agenda and recent pronouncements can be found easily at www.gasb.org. The website includes pages dedicated to each project, articles and podcasts, the complete text of GASB Statements and proposals, and information about purchasing publications and services.
As you know, The User’s Perspective, the GASB’s electronic newsletter written especially for the users of governmental financial information, is published twice a year and addresses user-oriented topics, including how new pronouncements and proposals impact users. It can be found under the “Users” tab on the website. To sign up to receive the newsletter automatically by email, fill out the visitors’ register on the website, which is discussed below.
Proposed and new GASB standards are usually accompanied by a short “plain-language” article that uses a minimum of technical language. Reading the GASB’s pronouncements can be difficult for a couple of reasons. First, depending on the subject matter, the issues addressed can be highly technical. Second, the standards are written in a manner that is intended to ensure that the specific requirements are clearly delineated. This is why the GASB has made a priority of communicating with users of financial reports and its other constituents about its standards and standards-setting activities as plainly as possible.
Available under the “Education” tab on the website, plain-language articles summarize the issues that the proposals or final pronouncements are intended to address and their key requirements. “Fact sheets” present questions and answers about major projects, proposals, and financial pronouncements in order to set the record straight about issues that are complex or controversial. The GASB keeps an archive of its plain-language materials on the website. All of the articles, fact sheets, and publications available under the Education tab may be downloaded free of charge.
Projects on the GASB’s agenda—both current and research projects—each have their own page in this section of the website (under the “Projects” tab). Individual project pages include recent developments, major tentative decisions by the Board, links to relevant documents, contact information for project staff, and work plan information. The information on active projects is updated after each meeting in which the projects are discussed by the Board. Information about completed projects is available in an archive under the project tab.
The GASB makes copies of all of its final pronouncements and outstanding draft proposals available for download at no charge. Final GASB documents are available under the “Pronouncements” tab. In addition to the full text of Statements, Concepts Statements, Interpretations, and Technical Bulletins, links to both summaries and status updates for each of these types of GASB literature also are available in this section. GASB proposals, including Exposure Drafts, Preliminary Views, and Invitations to Comment, are available on the “Documents for Public Comment” page under the Projects tab.
The GASB Technical Plan, which is updated three times a year, presents detailed information about each of the projects currently being deliberated by the Board, projects for which research is being conducted, and potential future projects. You can access the Technical Plan under the “Technical Issues” tab.
Do you have a question about GASB standards or state and local government accounting and financial reporting? By filling out and submitting the GASB online form—which may be accessed through a link in the Technical Issues section—website viewers may pose questions to GASB staff about the application of GASB pronouncements. Nonauthoritative staff responses will be provided by phone.
Take a few minutes to provide the GASB with your contact information for GASB’s confidential constituent database. Sharing that with us helps focus the GASB’s efforts to obtain input. Providing this information through the visitors’ register also makes you eligible to receive occasional email news updates, The User’s Perspective, and to participate in the GASB’s research efforts. The link to the visitors’ register—“Let GASB Know Who You Are”—is under the “About GASB” tab.
Hard copies of GASB publications, subscriptions, and CD-ROM products are available for purchase through the GASB store. Also available here are the GASB user guides (please see the related article in this issue), which provide a nontechnical introduction to the financial reports of state and local governments.
The GASB website offers an array of additional resources, including comment letters on proposals issued by the Board, selected articles from The GASB Report, Board member bios, and links to the News Center, and Board meetings calendar and other calendar pages.