Where now for the GASB?

Author:Gauthier, Stephen
Position:Perspectives - Governmental Accounting Standards Board

Last year, the Governmental Accounting Standard Board (GASB) celebrated its 30th anniversary (June 1984-June 2014). Those three decades have been witness to fundamental changes in accounting and financial reporting for state and local governments that include a new governmental financial reporting model, comprehensive guidelines for defining the financial reporting entity and presenting component units, a new approach for reporting fund balance, and a complete overhaul in accounting and financial reporting for pensions and other postemployment benefits (OPEB).

The recent completion of the GASB's groundbreaking work on pensions and OPEB might well raise the question of whether there is still a real "frontier" for the GASB, or whether the board's future work will focus increasingly on narrower practice issues. A good argument could be made either way. On the one hand, the GASB's current work on fiduciary reporting and leases, not to mention its reexamination of the governmental financial reporting model, hold the prospect of major change. On the other hand, upcoming exposure drafts seem to be more narrowly focused (irrevocable split-interest agreements, criteria for the use of amortized cost by external investment pools, blending for not-for-profits in which the government is the sole corporate member, asset retirement obligations).

Regardless of the direction ultimately taken, GFOA is on record urging the GASB to avoid creating differences between public-sector and private-sector standards without a compelling reason to do so. In GFOA's view, differences in...

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