Journal Entries

This recurring website feature highlights articles from The GASB Report, the GASB’s monthly newsletter. The current article appeared in the January 2012 issue.

New Local Government User Guide Now Available

The newly updated and revised edition of What You Should Know about Your Local Government’s Finances: A Guide to Financial Statements is now available. This new guide offers an easy-to-understand primer on the annual financial reports of local governments and includes the major new reporting requirements issued since the publication of the original guide, including those on retiree health insurance, derivative instruments, and fund balance.

This comprehensive guide is designed to help readers develop a more informed understanding of local governments’ annual financial reports. It provides an in depth yet readily comprehensible look at the importance of government financial statements, information provided about the entire government, governmental funds, notes to the financial statements, supporting information, and other information governments may provide with the financial statements.

The new edition of the local government guide is meant to serve as an introduction to the financial statements of local governments and to the information those statements contain. It will supply readers with the tools necessary to open a financial statement and more clearly understand what it says than they might have otherwise been able to.

Once readers of the guide have completed this introduction to local government financial statements, they can delve more deeply and see, through numerous examples, how the information provided in financial statements can be used to aid them in making specific decisions or assessing the government from an accountability standpoint.

All of the GASB’s What You Should Know guides include features designed to assist readers at all points on the spectrum—from those who are new to governmental financial statements to the experienced reader. Specifically, the guides include the following:

  • Annotated examples of a host of financial statements, notes, and schedules
  • A storyline designed to help the reader understand the concepts
  • An introduction to basic financial ratios used to analyze government finances
  • Helpful boxes and sidebars further exploring issues raised in the text
  • An overview of governmental accounting and financial reporting
  • An extensive glossary of terms.

The new local government user guide may be ordered through the Store section of the GASB website, www.gasb.org. Information about the other guides in the series will be posted as they become available in the coming months:

  • What You Should Know about Your School District’s Finances—revised and updated
  • An Analyst’s Guide to Government Financial Statements—revised, updated, and significantly expanded
  • What You Should Know about the Finances of Your Business-Type Activities—a completely new guide for 2012.