Staying in Compliance with GASB Statement 34

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Imagine that your county has adopted/updated a capital asset and/or personnel policy, capitalized all county-owned assets and infrastructure, and compiled all the reports needed for the preparation of government-wide financial statements. You also have prepared accurate backup documentation for all capitalized assets, leave liabilities, and other applicable GASB Statement 34 requirements.

Your auditors complete the county’s audit and inform you that the county has complied with GASB Statement 34 reporting requirements. Congratulations! You  have successfully complied with the one of the most significant governmental accounting pronouncements ever. However, the job is not entirely done.

The county constantly will be acquiring and disposing of assets. Depreciation reports and employee leave liabilities change each year, and more debt will be issued in future years. These changes will have to be tracked and recorded on financial  reports. While in most counties this maintenance of the accounting records will not  be a large task, neglect of these duties could cause a county that already has  complied with GASB Statement 34 to become noncompliant. This noncompliance would be due to the inability to prepare accurate financial statements because of a lack of updated financial information.

The GASB has continued to issue new accounting statements. Many of these newer statements require the recognition of liabilities on the government-wide financial statements that are  prepared under Statement 34. Without the preparation of government-wide financial statements, a county will be unable to comply with numerous current and  upcoming accounting requirements. With this in mind, county management should strive to ensure that adequate resources are used to maintain the integrity of the financial reporting system in which they have invested so much already.