Rhode Island government accounting principles

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The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) is the State of Rhode Island's legislative audit agency, conducting financial and performance audits to provide independent information to the General Assembly on a variety of topics including the State's financial condition, its use of federal funds in compliance with federal law and regulations, and whether programs are operating efficiently and effectively. The OAG's audit reports are published online. Ernest A. Almonte has been the Auditor General of the State of Rhode Island since 1994.[1]

In a report published in May 2012, The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) rated Rhode Island “Tardy” 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] Rhode Island's CAFRs are annual publications of the Rhode Island Office of Accounts and Control under Marc A. Leonetti as State Controller. Despite the tardiness of previous CAFRs, the Office of Accounts and Control already has posted the preliminary 2009 CAFR on its Web site.[3]

The Office of Accounts and Control is responsible for the financial integrity and accountability of state government through sound administrative and accounting controls and procedures. The office is also responsible for the preparation and/or coordination of several publications, including the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Condensed State Financial Report, State Payroll Manual, Procedural Handbook of the Department of Administration, and the Consolidated Statewide Cost Allocation Plan.[4]

Accounting transparency checklist

Truth 1.png

Comprehensive Y
600px-Yes check.png
Balanced budget P
Timeliness P
Usability P

The good

  • The website has Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) dating back to 1999.[5]
  • An independent auditor’s report is published on page 7 of the document.[6]
  • It provides supplements to the budget workup, starting on page 117.
  • The budget is posted using organized and consistent methods of financial reporting.
  • Rhode Island law requires a balanced budget, but a deficit is permitted.[7]
  • It includes all costs incurred by the government, including long-term liabilities, starting on page 14 of the document.[6]
  • The CAFR compares estimated and actual budgetary numbers, such as on page 117 of the document.[6]

The bad

  • The Rhode Island office was somewhat tardy in submitting the budget.
  • The CAFR is posted in a PDF format, so it’s not searchable online.

External links