News Release 06/29/15

GASB SIMPLIFIES GAAP HIERARCHY FOR
STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

Norwalk, CT, June 29, 2015—The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) today issued a final Statement that simplifies the structure of the hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)—or “GAAP hierarchy.” The GAAP hierarchy identifies the sources of guidance that state and local governments follow when preparing financial statements in conformity with GAAP and lists the order of priority for pronouncements to which a government should look for guidance.

GASB Statement No. 76, The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for State and Local Governments, reduces the GAAP hierarchy to two categories of authoritative GAAP from the four categories under GASB Statement No. 55, The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for State and Local Governments. The first category of authoritative GAAP consists of GASB Statements of Governmental Accounting Standards. The second category comprises GASB Technical Bulletins and Implementation Guides, as well as guidance from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants that is cleared by the GASB.

The Statement also addresses the use of authoritative and nonauthoritative literature in the event that the accounting treatment for a transaction or other event is not specified within a source of authoritative GAAP.

These changes are intended to improve financial reporting for governments by establishing a framework for the evaluation of accounting guidance that will result in governments applying that guidance with less variation. That will improve the usefulness of financial statement information for making decisions and assessing accountability and enhance the comparability of financial statement information among governments. The Statement also improves implementation guidance by elevating its authoritative status to a level that requires it be exposed for a period of broad public comment prior to issuance, as is done for other GASB pronouncements.

“Applying accounting standards can sometimes be complex, but identifying the right standards to apply should be straightforward,” said GASB Chairman David A. Vaudt. “Statement 76 goes a long way toward making that a reality.”

In connection with Statement 76, the GASB also recently cleared Implementation Guide No. 2015-1, which incorporates changes resulting from feedback received during the public exposure of all of implementation guidance previously issued.

The requirements of the new pronouncements are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2015.

Statement 76 is available and the new Implementation Guide soon will be available free of charge on the GASB website. Printed copies of the Statement will be available for purchase in the coming weeks.


About the Governmental Accounting Standards Board

Established in 1984, the GASB is the independent, private-sector organization based in Norwalk, Connecticut, that establishes accounting and financial reporting standards for U.S. state and local governments that follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). These standards are recognized as authoritative by state and local governments, state Boards of Accountancy, and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The GASB develops and issues accounting standards through a transparent and inclusive process intended to promote financial reporting that provides useful information to taxpayers, public officials, investors, and others who use financial reports. The Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) supports and oversees the GASB. For more information, visit www.gasb.org.