accounting

Themes

The following explanations of terms are presented to aid in understanding the narrative discussions and illustrations included in this text and the terminology generally used in governmental accounting, auditing, financial reporting and budgeting. Because this glossary is reprinted from the Government Finance Association’s Governmental Accounting and Financial Reporting, the terms and explanations have not been modified to reflect specific Texas school district issues, etc. Synonyms for specific terms also may be presented in this appendix. In such instances, the abbreviation “syn.” is used before the term.


ACCOUNTABILITY. Being obliged to explain one’s actions, to justify what one does. Accountability requires governments to answer to the citizenry-to justify the raising of public resources and the purposes for which they are used. Governmental accountability is based on the belief that the citizenry has a “right to know,” a right to receive openly declared facts that may lead to public debate by the citizens and their elected representatives. SGAC1
ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES BOARD (APB). Authoritative private-sector standard-setting body that preceded the FASB. The APB issued guidance in the form of Opinions.


ACCOUNTING STANDARDS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (AcSEC). An AICPA committee that is authorized to issue Practice Bulletins. A Practice Bulletin specifically targeted to state and local governments and cleared by the GASB would enjoy “level 2” status on the hierarchy of authoritative sources of GAAP established by SAS No. 69, The Meaning of “Present Fairly in Conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles” in the Independent Auditor’s Report.


ACCRUAL BASIS OF ACCOUNTING. A method of accounting that recognizes the financial effect of transactions, events, and interfund activities when they occur, regardless of the timing of related cash flows.
ACQUISITION COSTS. Term used in connection with public-entity risk pools. Costs that vary with and are primarily related to the acquisition of new and renewal contracts. Commissions and other costs (e.g., salaries of certain employees involved in the underwriting and policy issue functions, and inspection fees) that are primarily related to contracts issued or renewed during the period in which the costs are incurred are considered to be acquisition costs SGAS 10
ACTIVITY. A specific and distinguishable service performed by one or more organizational components of a government to accomplish a function for which the government is responsible (e.g., police is an activity within the public safety function).


ACTUARIAL ACCRUED LIABILITY. Term used in connection with defined benefit pension plans. That portion, as determined by a particular actuarial cost method, of the actuarial present value of pension plan benefits and expenses which is not provided for by future normal costs. SGAS 25
ACTUARIAL ASSUMPTIONS. Term used in connection with defined benefit pension plans. Assumptions as to the occurrence of future events affecting pension costs, such as: mortality, withdrawal, disablement and retirement; changes in compensation and government-provided pension benefits; rates of investment earnings and asset appreciation or depreciation; procedures used to determine the actuarial value of assets; characteristics of future entrants for open group actuarial cost methods; and other relevant items. SGAS 25
ACTUARIAL COST METHOD. Term used in connection with defined benefit pension plans. A procedure for determining the actuarial present value of pension plan benefits and expenses and for developing an actuarially equivalent allocation of such value to time periods, usually in the form of a normal cost and an actuarial accrued liability. SGAS 25.


ACTUARIAL SECTION. One of five sections of a comprehensive annual financial report of a public employee retirement system. The contents of this section typically include the actuary’s certification letter, a summary of actuarial assumptions and methods, a schedule of active member valuation data, a schedule of retirants and beneficiaries added to and removed from rolls, a solvency test, an analysis of financial experience, an independent actuarial review opinion (if available), and a discussion of changes in plan provisions (if the plan has been amended).
ACTUARIAL VALUE OF ASSETS. Term used in connection with defined benefit pension plans. The value of cash, investments, and other property belonging to a pension plan, as used by the actuary for the purpose of an actuarial valuation. The actuarial value of assets, which may represent an average value over time, normally differs from the amount reported in the financial statements, which is a point-in-time measure (i.e., as of the date of the statement of net