Summary of Statement No. 55

Statement No. 55
The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for State and Local Governments
(Issued 03/09)

The objective of this Statement is to incorporate the hierarchy of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for state and local governments into the Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s (GASB) authoritative literature. The “GAAP hierarchy” consists of the sources of accounting principles used in the preparation of financial statements of state and local governmental entities that are presented in conformity with GAAP, and the framework for selecting those principles.

The GASB is responsible for establishing GAAP for state and local governments. However, the current GAAP hierarchy is set forth in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) Statement on Auditing Standards No. 69, The Meaning of Present Fairly in Conformity With Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, rather than in the authoritative literature of the GASB.

How the Changes in This Statement Will Improve Financial Reporting

The requirements in this Statement will improve financial reporting by contributing to the GASB’s efforts to codify all GAAP for state and local governments so that they derive from a single source. The Board concluded that the GAAP hierarchy should reside in the accounting literature established by the GASB and is issuing this Statement to accomplish that objective. This Statement will make it easier for preparers of state and local government financial statements to identify and apply all relevant guidance. The Board does not expect that this Statement will result in a change in current practice.

Unless otherwise specified, pronouncements of the GASB apply to financial reports of all state and local governmental entities, including general purpose governments; public benefit corporations and authorities; public employee retirement systems; and public utilities, hospitals and other healthcare providers, and colleges and universities. Paragraph 2 discusses the applicability of this Statement.