Norwalk, CT, August 2, 2004—The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has issued Statement No. 45, Accounting and Financial Reporting by Employers for Postemployment Benefits Other Than Pensions, which addresses how state and local governments should account for and report their costs and obligations related to postemployment healthcare and other nonpension benefits. Collectively, these benefits are commonly referred to as other postemployment benefits, or OPEB.
The statement generally requires that state and local governmental employers account for and report the annual cost of OPEB and the outstanding obligations and commitments related to OPEB in essentially the same manner as they currently do for pensions. Annual OPEB cost for most employers will be based on actuarially determined amounts that, if paid on an ongoing basis, generally would provide sufficient resources to pay benefits as they come due. The provisions of Statement 45 may be applied prospectively and do not require governments to fund their OPEB plans. An employer may establish its OPEB liability at zero as of the beginning of the initial year of implementation; however, the unfunded actuarial liability is required to be amortized over future periods.
Statement 45 also establishes disclosure requirements for information about the plans in which an employer participates, the funding policy followed, the actuarial valuation process and assumptions, and, for certain employers, the extent to which the plan has been funded over time.
According to project manager Karl Johnson, “When implemented, Statement 45 will provide those who use government financial reports with improved information about the cost of providing postemployment benefits, the commitments that governments have made related to those benefits, and the extent to which those commitments have been funded.”
Statement 45 is effective in three phases based on a government’s total annual revenues. The largest employers would be required to implement the requirements of Statement 45 for periods beginning after December 15, 2006. Medium-sized employers have one additional year to implement the standards, and the smallest employers have two additional years. Earlier implementation is encouraged.
The Statement (product code GS45) can be ordered through the GASB’s Order Department at (800) 748-0659 or online via its website at www.gasb.org.
About the Governmental Accounting Standards Board
The GASB is the independent, not-for-profit organization formed in 1984 that establishes and improves financial accounting and reporting standards for state and local governments. Its seven members are drawn from the Board's diverse constituency, including preparers and auditors of government financial statements, users of those statements and members of the academic community. More information about the GASB can be found at its website www.gasb.org.
Governmental Accounting Standards Board
Improving governmental accountability through better financial reporting