Charles A. Bowsher, U.S. comptroller general and head of the General Accounting Office, has retired after 15 years of service during which he played a major role in strengthening governmental financial management. Under Bowsher's leadership, the GAO has investigated, monitored and reported on virtually all important federal operations, including recent reports on the federal budget deficit and efforts to reinvent government.
Bowsher told attendees at the American Institute of CPAs National Governmental Accounting and Auditing Update Conference in Washington, D.C., that he was pleased with the progress made by governments-- federal, state and local--in reporting how taxpayers' money is being spent. But he emphasized that government fiscal accountability did not yet meet private-sector standards, saying it was imperative for governments to take strides toward better financial management. "Governments in the United States should have as good accounting systems, audits and financial reporting as the private sector," said Bowsher.
A better, more timely report
Bowsher said that although government financial reports seemed accurate and fairly presented, they were not summarized well enough to present a clear overall picture of government and were incomprehensible to most taxpayers. He said it was vital that the Governmental Accounting Standards Board issue standards to produce reports that are understandable to taxpayers, state legislators and city council...