From the GASB Chair
By Joel Black
Today, I’d like to talk with you about the freshly renamed Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and give you an update on how we’re leveraging technology to enhance both how we reach out to you and how you can share your thoughts with us.
At our October meeting, the GASB voted unanimously in favor of changing the name of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR), or “ak-fer.” This critical document provides an extensive summary of a government’s financial activities and how it is using the resources that have been entrusted to it.
The name change may seem like a small thing, but the reason behind the change is very important to us—and sends an important message.
Stakeholders brought to our attention that the way the former acronym was pronounced was an offensive term primarily for black South Africans but also to those of the Muslim faith.
Our Board sets accounting and financial reporting standards for the 90,000 state and local governments in the United States but we are part of the global financial community. If we can simply change the order of the words in the title of this document and no longer use a term that gives offense in that global community, we believe that is just the right thing to do. Inclusivity is an important part of our values. At the same time, the small change in the name lets those who use these reports know that the content between the covers hasn’t changed, just the title.
You can learn more about this change in GASB Statement No. 98, The Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, on our website. If you’d like to reach out to us about this, we always love to hear from you.
Another issue that’s top of mind for the GASB is leveraging technology in our outreach so we can keep in closer touch with you and the rest of our broadening stakeholder network. A key goal as we do this is to make it easier for you to share your ideas and input with us.
This summer, we piloted an electronic input form for you to share feedback with us on an Exposure Draft, Accounting Changes and Error Corrections. This serves as an alternative way to provide us input, in lieu of a traditional comment letter (though we continue to really appreciate those) but is given the same full consideration by the Board and staff. We plan to continue offering the electronic input form, beginning with the next scheduled due process document—in the Risks and Uncertainties Disclosures project. Your feedback will directly inform what the Board ultimately sets out in the final Statement.
We also are considering new ways to conduct research on governmental accounting topics. Our current process relies on accessing PDFs of financial reports and manually extracting the information we need. We’re studying how we can leverage technology to help modernize our research methods and identify more dynamic ways to deliver results that drive our standards-setting projects.
These ideas are just the beginning of what we envision longer term, and it will take time to develop them and other ideas more fully. I’ll keep you in the loop about the progress we’re making and other innovations we are considering.
I want you to know that our stakeholders are always the central consideration as we plan and evolve and try new ways of doing things. As always, we’d love to know what ideas you may have. If you’re so inclined, please drop us a note to let us know at email@example.com.