Oregon government accounting principles

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This page details government accounting principles in Oregon. The Oregon Audits Division is the only independent auditing organization in the state with the authority to review programs of agencies in all three branches of state government and other organizations receiving state money. Authority for the responsibilities of the Audits Division is found in sections 297.010 through 297.990 of the Oregon Revised Statutes. Their audit reports are published online in a user-friendly, searchable format. The Division of Audits was established in 1929 by the state legislature to carry out the duties of the Secretary of State as the constitutional Auditor of Public Accounts. Gary Blackmer is the Director of the Audits Division under Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown. Kate Brown was elected Secretary of State in 2008.[1]

The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) rates Oregon “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.[2] Oregon's CAFRs are annual publications of the Oregon Statewide Accounting and Reporting Services (SARS), State Controller's Division, Department of Administrative Services. The State Controller’s Division is responsible for statewide financial accounting, financial reporting, and administration of the statewide accounting system for state government. It prepares the Statewide Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR); administers statewide central disbursements; and provides professional fiscal guidance, training, and consultation to state agencies. John Radford (dead link) has been Oregon's State Controller since his appointment by the Governor in 1989.[3]

Credit Rating Fitch Moody's S&P
Oregon[4] AA Aa2 AA

On June 27, 2009 the Oregon State Senate unanimously passed House Bill 2500 which will lead to the creation of a website that tracks state spending. On June 30, 2009 the bill was unanimously adopted by the House. The nonpartisan bill was written by State Representatives on both sides of the aisle, including: Arnie Roblan, Jefferson Smith, Kim Thatcher, and Gene Whisnant. The passing of HB 2500 marks the largest step towards government transparency in Oregon history.[5] Oregon House Bill 2500: states that "taxpayers should be able to easily access the details on how the state is spending their tax dollars and what performance results are achieved for those expenditures." The bill calls for an easily accessible and interactive website. The site would be developed and maintained by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. The site will provide: the location, purpose, and results of Oregon taxpayer investments; agency budget figures; contracting information; and audit reports issued by the Secretary of State.

Gov. Kulongoski signed HB 2500 into law on July 28, 2009.[6]

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 2006.[7]
  • An independent auditor’s report is published on page 10 of the document.[8]
  • It provides supplements to the budget workup, starting on page 120.
  • The budget is posted using organized and consistent methods of financial reporting.
  • Oregon law requires a balanced budget and a deficit is forbidden.[9]
  • It includes all costs incurred by the government, including long-term liabilities, starting on page 85 of the document.[8]
  • The CAFR compares estimated and actual budgetary numbers, such as on page 120 of the document.[8]

The bad

  • The Oregon office was somewhat tardy in submitting the budget.
  • The CAFR is posted in a PDF format, so it’s not searchable online.
  • There were CAFRs online dating back only to 2006.

External links