From the Chairman
By David A. Vaudt, GASB Chairman

Flexibility and Continuity in Trying Times


It’s hard to believe that my time as GASB chair is nearly over. The past months have been challenging to say the least, but the resilience we’ve all seen and the spirit of working together to overcome previously unimaginable obstacles have been both inspiring and reassuring.
During this unpredictable COVID-19 period, we’ve all had to learn to be more improvisational than we’re used to. Two related forces—flexibility and continuity—have helped us do that.
 

During this unpredictable COVID-19 period, we’ve all had to learn to be more improvisational than we’re used to. Two related forces—flexibility and continuity—have helped us do that.
 

Flexibility

 
Under normal circumstances, the GASB would have continued to move forward focused squarely on setting high-quality standards. But when the crisis hit, we had to pivot quickly and get to work to meet stakeholders’ immediate needs. If you’re familiar with the Board’s due process, you probably know our work is not designed for the quick pivot. Your openness and input truly helped us to make that shift—more so than any of you probably ever imagined.
 
With the onset of COVID-19, it was clear governments have their hands full and many don’t have the resources to implement new accounting standards. I hope our response has been equally clear: temporary relief to governments and other stakeholders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly warranted and we are here to help answer any questions you may have.
 
With that in mind, we moved quickly to add a project that I would call the centerpiece of the Board’s recent work in response to the pandemic: providing relief by postponing effective dates by one year or more on many key standards—including leases and fiduciary activities—as well as related implementation guidance. We’d like to thank stakeholders and organizations who shared their input with us on how to improve that proposal. Your fast and thoughtful feedback allowed us to finalize the guidance to postpone most upcoming guidance and issue a final Statement in early May. Although the Board continued to work on other current technical agenda projects, our top priority was to quickly provide needed relief through this fast-tracked project.
 
In addition to the postponement relief, one of the other things we’ve done to help is to put a toolbox on to the GASB’s COVID-19 response website page that provides information about specific areas of our guidance that may be relevant to the pandemic crisis. The toolbox also offers links to professional organizations in the governmental space that offer recommendations for financial reporting and other issues relevant to the period at hand. Please see the related article in this issue that details the other areas of COVID-19 relief for GASB stakeholders.
 
I want to say to anyone who may be reading this column and who may have questions: Please reach out to us. In case you haven’t been in touch for a while, we’ve put links on the crisis response page to get to the right person at the GASB to answer your question.
 

Continuity


One of the ways the GASB helps support stability in the municipal bond markets and provide a sense of continuity to stakeholders is having a process in place that allows for a smooth transition in leadership.

Over the past several weeks, incoming GASB Chair Joel Black and I have been meeting by video chat to help make the transition as personal as possible under the circumstances. Each GASB chairman’s term has been unique and featured its own priorities and challenges.

One thing that remains constant is that we’re in this with you. As our society and the governments that serve that society evolve, the GASB will be ready to meet the new challenges.
 
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to connect with us to share their ideas and perspectives during my tenure.

Thank You


The privilege of working with such an excellent GASB team and all of our stakeholders during my tenure has been one of the greatest highlights of my professional life. It’s been such a pleasure to work with such a talented and dedicated group of individuals. I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to connect with us to share their ideas and perspectives during my tenure. On behalf of the entire Board, we appreciate your support and look forward to your continued engagement.