Making the Transition to GASB's Codification from of the Original Pronouncements.

Author:Levine, Michele Mark
Position:The Accounting Angle - Governmental Accounting Standards Board

Since the inception of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) in June 1984, the GASB has issued 87 pronouncements, more than two thirds of which have included changes to its earlier pronouncements. Fully 80 percent of all GASB pronouncements have been changed by at least one subsequent pronouncement, and a dozen have been changed by ten or more that followed. In fact, one GASB pronouncement has a list of more than 100 changes made to it by later standards! (1)

It may be a point of pride for battle-tested government accountants to refer to older GASB statements by number; think of GASB Statement No. 14, The Financial Reporting Entity, or GASB Statement No 34, Basic Financial Statements--and Management's Discussion and Analysis--for State and Local Governments, each of which fundamentally altered government financial statements and left permanent impressions on the minds of practitioners at the time. However, those numbers are shorthand references that are meaningless in and of themselves, and their continued usage might actually be a barrier to finding and understanding current rules, especially for those newer to the field.

Moreover, GASB's standalone and comprehensive Implementation Guides have grown to include literally hundreds of questions and answers that offer clarification and guidance on virtually all aspects of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Once the GASB statement has been identified and consulted, one must still search the Implementation Guides for relevant guidance.


All of this means that while using GASB's Original Pronouncements: Governmental Accounting and Financial Reporting Standards may be fine for historical research. In order to ascertain the current GAAP governing a specific topic, you probably should be looking somewhere else. That "somewhere else" is GASB's Codification of Governmental Accounting and Financial Reporting Standards, organized by topic and with all relevant questions and answers from the Implementation Guides, as well as non-authoritative exhibits, included in each section.

The Codification is organized into five major topics, equivalent to chapters in a book: (2) I) General Principles, II) Financial Reporting, III) Measurement, IV) Specific Balance Sheet and Operating Statement Items, and V) Stand-Alone Reporting for Specialized Units and Activities. The Codification's sections are numbered within each chapter, and, unlike pronouncement numbers...

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