U.S. Government Standard General Ledger Issues Resolution Committee (IRC) Meeting Minutes
May 24, 2007
Judy Yuran (FMS) opened the meeting and introductions were made.
Jeff Hoge (FMS) introduced Shannon Redding (FMS), Beth Angerman (FMS), and Dave Burgman (FMS) to the IRC members. Shannon and Beth work in the Accounting Systems Division on the Financial Information and Reporting Standardization (FIRST) project, and Dave is the project manager of FIRST. Jeff summarized the evolution of the USSGL and the FIRST project. FIRST will address three types of inconsistencies that the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) was cited for in the Government Accountability Office (GAO) findings on the Financial Report of the United States Government (FR). Those inconsistencies included: 1) the financial data agencies report to FMS is not consistent with the USSGL rules; 2) the financial data reported in the financial statements is not consistent with the financial data agencies report to FMS monthly; and 3) financial statement reporting is not consistent with budgetary reporting. However, the problem is not just intragovernmental; it is overall accounting in general. Intragovernmental reporting only provides two pieces of information to compare, and it is more visible/easier to see. A proper accounting cycle takes agencies from trial balances to financial statements. In order to prepare good financial statements, good trial balances are critical. That is what FIRST is focusing on. Agencies will input their budgetary and proprietary USSGLs into FIRST and will be able to produce financial statements from trial balances in a consistent manner. Obtaining a clean opinion on the FR will not be a Treasury accomplishment, but an accomplishment of the entire Federal Government.
The draft "purpose statement" of FIRST is to develop a disciplined, repeatable methodology that continuously and measurably improves the quality of the financial data in the FR, and Federal agencies' financial statements, while reducing the resources required to produce them. The scope of FIRST can be thought of in terms of two ends of a spectrum. On one end, the scope is to modify Federal Agencies' Centralized Trial-Balance System (FACTS) II with better, more user-friendly items. The other end encompasses having budgetary and proprietary trial balances, together with attributes, enough to prepare the current reports (SF 133: Report on Budget Execution and Budgetary Resources; FMS 2108: Yearend Closing Statement; and the Program and Financing (P&F) Schedule), OMB Circular No. A-136 agency statements, as well as the FR. The agencies will submit their trial balances through FIRST, and FIRST will provide statements and feedback in the form of edits.
Jeff stated that agencies would be accepting more discipline, in the form of new guidelines and attributes, but the results would be agencies receiving good feedback, in the form of edits and/or statements. With the implementation of FIRST, FMS would eliminate the Intragovernmental Fiduciary Confirmation System (IFCS) and Intragovernmental Reporting and Analysis System (IRAS) reporting, among others.
Joe McAndrew (Treasury) discussed the evolution of the Treasury Information Executive Repository (TIER). He said TIER collects Treasury bureaus' trial balances and then prepares each bureau's financial statements and notes for them. Treasury also prepares score cards and gives feedback to the bureaus. In doing this, issues were found in a timely fashion. The bureaus asked for more edits so they would have fewer issues at reporting time. Marilyn Evans (DHS) discussed this process from a Treasury bureau's perspective.
Jeff Hoge said that the tie-points would become soft edits in FIRST. He reviewed the draft USSGL attributes for the Adjusted Trial-Balance System handout. Attributes in columns 22 through 32 are not currently in an FMS system. Judy Yuran stressed that the agency's system is the system of record, and FIRST would not replace nor duplicate it.
Judy Yuran shared that changes to the USSGL will be necessary to break out USSGL accounts currently required to be reported on multiple lines and/or financial statements. Beth Angerman asked if the agencies would prefer to have new accounts or new attributes and domain values. Judy began the review of the split USSGL handout. The initial consensus was to split some of the accounts into new accounts, but, after further discussion, it was decided to sort the handout by USSGL accounts and to continue the review at the next IRC meeting.
Judy asked for comments and/or questions regarding FIRST or any other issues. Tesfaye Wyes (DOC) asked if FIRST was a bridge to a centralized Governmentwide accounting and reporting system. Jeff said he would like to see standard interfaces of the FMS systems, not centralizing the transactions.
Judy adjourned the meeting.
Judy Yuran, FMS