Until recently, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) website was rather intimidating to anyone without a degree in finance or accounting. That is no longer the case, thanks to an impressive “new and improved” website that offers greater functionality and a broader array of content.
The GASB is a private, non-governmental organization that sets forth the accounting guidelines for most state and local government entities. Its mission, “to provide greater accountability and well-informed decision making through excellence in public-sector financial reporting,” is even more tenable, thanks to its impressive new website.
The new GASB website is designed to make it easier for everyone with an interest in high-quality financial reporting to follow GASB projects and to participate in the GASB’s due process, according to Christine Klimek, Senior Manager of Media Relations.
Have you seen the new GASB website yet? If not, here are six reasons you should:
1. Information is easier to find. The new GASB website is more intuitive in structure so that a wide range of visitors can easily find the latest updates on projects and initiatives. In addition to a “Quick Links” tool on the home page, the site features clear menu options that visitors can use to easily find reference materials, updates on current projects, and regulatory standards and guidelines. “The new site is designed to be more user-friendly for all visitors – not just for state and local government preparers and auditors, but also for the citizens they serve,” Klimek said.
2. Information is easier to understand. On that same vein, the new GASB website also features more “Plain English” resources. That means visitors don’t need a CPA or CFA after their name in order to understand not only who the GASB is and what it does, but also specific standards, such as how governmental entities are required to report financial information relating to pensions and other post-employment benefits (OPEB).
3. The integrity of the former website has been maintained – and improved. While the GASB expanded its reach to a wider audience, the quality, depth and breadth of its content has not been compromised. Those in search of GASB Pronouncements (statements issued by the GASB) and/or detailed implementation guides can easily find them on the new website, along with timely updates on GASB projects and events.
4. A picture paints a thousand words. Through videos and live webcasts of public meetings, online visitors can watch, listen to, learn about, and participate in the GASB process. This improved technology takes flat content and brings it to life. A featured video message by GASB Chairman David A. Vaudt highlights five key areas of the Board’s new pension standards, issued last year and scheduled for implementation over the near term. On October 30, the GASB will feature its first Board Meeting via live webcast.
5. Your participation is welcome – and encouraged. Whether “you” are a seasoned industry professional, a municipal bond issuer, or a concerned citizen, the new GASB website encourages participation in its due process. “One of the goals of the GASB is to encourage a broad range of stakeholders-including citizens of state and local governments-to provide their input on GASB projects of importance,” according to Klimek. One of the GASB’s current long-term projects, for example, involves the consideration of guidelines for providing economic condition in financial reporting. “Of course, in order to solicit that feedback, we need to make people aware of those projects, and how the GASB’s proposals could improve the quality of information they receive about how their state and local governments are utilizing taxpayer resources.” The new website provides the perfect platform for increased awareness – and increased participation.
6. Governmental accounting is relevant. With an increased emphasis on disclosure and transparency, accounting isn’t just for accountants and financial analysts anymore. Taxpayers, concerned citizens, public policy groups, think tanks, and a more sophisticated-than-ever general public are becoming increasingly aware of government finances, and are seeking a better understanding of accounting standards.