Minnesota government accounting principles

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Minnesota auditing authority is divided between the State Auditor and the Legislative Auditor. The Office of the State Auditor is a constitutional office that is charged with overseeing more than $20 billion spent annually by local governments in Minnesota, publishing their audit reports online. The Office of the Legislative Auditor audits state agencies and constitutional offices, and also publishes their audit reports online.[1]

Rebecca Otto was elected Minnesota State Auditor in 2006.[2] Jim Nobles has been the Legislative Auditor for the State of Minnesota since 1983, an appointed position under the Legislative Audit Commission. In addition to the office's primary focus on state agencies and programs, they also audited three metropolitan agencies and selectively reviewed programs that are administered locally.[3]

In a report published in May 2012, The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) rated Minnesota “Timely” in filing the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – The annual report of state and local governmental entities. IFTA rated 23 states timely, 24 states tardy, and 3 states excessively tardy. IFTA does not consider the state's CAFRs, and those of the other states, to be accurate representations of the state’s financial condition because the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) basis does not include significant liabilities for the pension plans and for other post employment benefits, such as health care.[4] Minnesota's CAFRs are published online by the Minnesota Management and Budget Agency (MMB). Tom J. Hanson has been the Commissioner of the Minnesota Management and Budget Agency since 2006. MMB’s area of responsibilities include:[5]

  • Accounting
  • Bonding
  • Budget
  • Economic Forecasts & Updates
  • Treasury

Accounting transparency checklist

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Comprehensive Y
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Balanced budget Y
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Timeliness Y
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Usability P

The good

  • The website has Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) dating back to 1997.[6]
  • An independent auditor’s report is published on page 15 of the document.[7]
  • It provides supplements to the budget workup.[8]
  • The budget is posted using organized and consistent methods of financial reporting.
  • Minnesota law requires a balanced budget.[9]
  • It includes all costs incurred by the government, including long-term liabilities, starting on page 96 of the document.[10]
  • The CAFR compares estimated and actual budgetary numbers, such as on page 34 of the document.[10]
  • The Minnesota office was timely in submitting the budget.

The bad

  • The CAFR is posted in a PDF format, so it’s not searchable online.

External links