“For Danny Werfel, controller of the Office of Management and Budget, the evidence is clear: average citizens are simply not interested in the typical agency financial statement. And the anniversary of the statute that made those financials possible in the first place offers an opportunity to make those reports more relevant to citizens and leaders alike.
“In his keynote address at the recent meeting of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) National Governmental Accounting and Auditing Update Conference, Werfel reviewed the history of the Chief Financial Officer’s (CFO) Act. He says that over the years, the act mandated that agencies have corporate-style CFOs, responsible for financial reports that provided a better picture of the agency’s fiscal health. In recent years, technology made it possible for more and more agencies to achieve clean audit opinions, the highest rating possible for financial statements demonstrating a high degree of accuracy.
“Werfel said the many transparency requirements of the Recovery Act, designed to track the spending of such a large sum of money, spawned highly popular websites such as Recovery.gov, from the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.
“It also improved USAspending.gov, which offers information about federal contracts. He said the high traffic on these sites and the relatively low traffic to traditional agency financial statements is proof that citizens are demanding more data and information on federal spending.
“Change may be on the way for agency financial statements for another reason – Congress mandated a review. Werfel said the recently enacted Improper Payments Bill mandates a comprehensive, top-to-bottom review of the CFO Act financial reporting model, to see if it still fits the needs of citizens and decision makers who may be more interested in spending data, rather than neat, comprehensive balance sheets.”
I played highlights of Mr. Werfel’s presentation on the show today; you can hear the entire speech by clicking on the audio link.