GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY BACKGROUND
As taxpayers of all governments (federal,
state, and local), we are mindful of the large percentage of our
salaries that are paid in taxes. We all would like to see more government
efficiency, more accountability -- and
less taxes. Our politicians are equally interested. The U.S. Congress has passed
no less than five pieces of legislation calling for federal
Despite the overall need and desire for government reform, however, the General Accounting Office (GAO), in its March 2001 testimony to Congress, revealed that for the fourth consecutive year, it was unable to express an opinion as to the veracity of the U.S. government’s financial statements. In the public relations portion of its testimony, GAO stated that 18 of the 24 Chief Financial Office (CFO) Act agencies received unqualified (or clean) opinions from (agency) auditors. It also acknowledged, that irrespective of the unqualified opinions on their financial statements, many agencies did not have timely, accurate, and useful financial information to ensure accountability on an ongoing basis due to material weaknesses and billions of dollars in manual adjustments.
How do we address the technical issues associated with this government accountability problem? The first step is to recognize that all government operations revolve around a single flawed concept. That is, governments use separate, independent, and irreconcilable budgeting (cash-based) and accounting (accrual-based) concepts to design their systems. These ever-evolving "standards" include a mishmash of budgeting and accounting jargon which no one can explain. The result is that the federal government adheres to accounting standards administered by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board while state and local governments follow Government Accounting Standards Board policies. But, how do we get government efficiency and accountability with this level of duplication, within and between governments? The private sector adheres to a single accounting standard. Why shouldn't a single (explainable) accounting process apply to all governments?
The Government Accounting Prototype (GAP) addresses these problems by integrating government accounting, budgeting, procurement, and property management processes. GAP uses a common sense approach to eliminate the smoke, mirrors, and mysteries of government budgeting and accounting policy. That is, it applies the same logic that we taxpayers use to compute our family budgets (anticipated cash + cash in bank = budget) and applies those concepts to all government operations. By incorporating Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in this philosophy, an integrated process evolves that is easily explained and applied to all government operations - no matter how large, small, or varied the operation.