Journal Entries

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

New Edition of An Analyst’s Guide Now Available

The newly updated, revised, and expanded edition of An Analyst’s Guide to Government Financial Statements is now available. Unlike the other editions in the GASB’s user guide series, An Analyst’s Guide to Government Financial Statements is geared toward more experienced and frequent users of governmental financial statements. In addition to introducing and describing the information that can be found in governmental reports, the new edition updates and combines the current guide with the GASB’s guide to notes and supporting information to create—for the first time—a comprehensive guide to the complete comprehensive annual financial report.

In addition to introductory and background material, the new edition of the guide features separate chapters on:

  • The government-wide statement of net position
     
  • The government-wide statement of activities
     
  • The governmental funds statements
     
  • The proprietary and fiduciary funds statements
     
  • Related note disclosures and supporting information.
In addition, the newly expanded 2012 edition explores how basic analytical techniques may be applied to assess such issues as economic condition, financial position, liquidity, solvency, fiscal capacity, and risk exposure.

New Editions of the What You Should Know Guides Also Available

With new editions of the original user guides now published and a brand new guide on business-type activities on the way later this year, the process of fully updating and expanding the user guide series is nearly complete. Introduced a decade ago, this series introduces state and local government financial reports to a broad, non-accountant audience using a minimum of accounting jargon.

When governments began issuing new financial statements following the requirements of GASB Statement No. 34, Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—for State and Local Governments, the GASB took the initiative to assist users in understanding the information contained in the revamped financial reports by publishing the original editions in its user guide series. These guides quickly became essential reading for financial analysts and other users. Now, the GASB has revamped, updated, and expanded the series, which in addition to An Analyst’s Guide to Government Financial Statements, includes the following titles:

  • What You Should Know about Your Local Government’s Finances
     
  • What You Should Know about Your School District’s Finances
     
  • What You Should Know about the Finances of Your Government’s Business-Type Activities (available later this year).
The three What You Should Know guides offer users a comprehensive, easily digestible introduction to the annual reports of local governments, school districts, and—new for 2012—business-type activities such as public utilities, hospitals, and colleges. The new editions of these guides cover more note disclosures and supporting information and include the major new pronouncements issued since the publication of the original guides. 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 editions in the user guide series may be ordered through the Store section of the GASB website, www.gasb.org.