Financial accounting and reporting
Management and the governing body are responsible for financial reporting. This responsibility includes compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements related to financial schedules, reports and deadlines. It also includes implementing controls to ensure that financial statements are accurately prepared in accordance with the stated basis of accounting. The following resources are available to assist governments with this responsibility.
BARS Manual - The Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Reporting (BARS) manuals prescribe accounting and reporting for local governments other than schools and educational service districts in accordance with RCW 43.09.200. Manuals are published by our Office and include example financial statements and notes.
BARS Reporting Packages - BARS reporting packages give example financial statements, note disclosures and schedules for selected local governments.
BARS Templates - Optional Excel and Word templates are available to prepare annual report schedules, financial statements and financial statement notes.
BARS Cash Basis Report Review Checklist - Optional, example checklist for documenting a review of BARS Cash Basis financial statements, notes and required fields.
Annual Report Submission - Local governments are required to submit an annual report to our Office within 150 days of fiscal year end in accordance with RCW 43.09.230. This page describes the requirements and submission options.
Local Government Advisory Committee - The Local Government Advisory Committee is a group of representatives from local governments around Washington. The Committee takes a lead role in setting statewide financial policies that affect local governments.
Local Government Financial Reporting System (LGFRS) - In accordance with RCW 43.09.230, our Office makes local government annual report information publicly available. This page includes a variety of individual or comparative reports to be generated.
Training Classes - Enroll in training courses taught by the State Auditor’s Office.
Equipment Rental and Revolving (ER&R) Fund Guidance - Reference guide on the formation and basic operations of Equipment and Rental & Revolving (ER&R) funds. The guide contains answers to common questions and discusses common issues encountered during audits of ER&R funds.
Pros and Cons - GAAP vs. Cash Basis - Document discussing the relative costs and benefits of cash and GAAP financial reporting.
Newly Created or Dissolved Entities - Letter describing the requirement to notify our office regarding newly created or dissolved entities.
OPEB - Alternative Measurement Method - Letter describing an alternative method for measuring Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) liability for GAAP financial reports.
Schools & Educational Service Districts
Accounting Manual for School Districts - The Accounting Manual prescribes accounting and reporting requirements for School Districts in accordance with WAC 392-123-010. The manual is published jointly by OSPI and our Office and includes example financial statements and notes.
Administrative Budgeting and Financial Reporting Manual - The ABFR manual, which is published by OSPI, contains detailed technical information on budgeting, treasurer’s report reconciliation, financial statements and other topics.
Educational Service District reference page - This page on the OSPI website contains resources, reports and the Accounting Manual for Educational Service Districts. The manual prescribes accounting and reporting requirements for ESDs in accordance with WAC 392-125-010.
School District financial and apportionment reports - OSPI publishes a variety of reports by District that can be accessed on this page.
OFM accounting page - This page on the OFM website contains news, resources and reports related to State agency accounting and financial reporting.
State Agency Accounting Manual (SAAM) - The SAAM prescribes accounting and reporting requirements for state agencies other than Commodity Commissions per RCW 43.88.160. The manual is published by the State Office of Financial Management (OFM) and includes requirements for administrative, accounting and accountability issues and practices.
Fund Reference Manual - This manual is a complete list of all legally authorized accounts for use by state agencies.
Office of the Chief Information Officer Agreed-Upon Procedure Engagements - Office of the Chief Information Officer Information Technology Security Policy No. 141 requires state agencies to have a compliance audit every three years. This page provides further resources for entities needing to meet requirements of the noted policy.
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internal control questionnaires
The following internal control questionnaires may be helpful to management in assessing the design and effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting. Questionnaires are designed for large or mid-size governments. To learn more about internal controls, refer to the Internal Control Guidebook.
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GFOA Best Practices - Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) maintains a list of best practices which identify specific policies and procedures to improve government management. Over 150 best practices and advisories are listed, with more added or updated every year, including:
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Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) - The GASB sets Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for state and local governments. Their official website includes resources, news and information about GAAP standards. Governments may also respond to draft standards and discussion documents or submit technical questions to GASB staff.
GFOA CAFR Checklist - The Governmental Financial Officers Association (GFOA) publishes a checklist for reviewing Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) prepared in accordance with GAAP. This checklist is published for purposes of their CAFR certification program and should be used by management as part of the financial statement preparation process if applying for a CAFR certification from GFOA. For governments not preparing a CAFR, the checklist is still a useful tool for review, since it represents the “gold standard” for financial statements.
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