Category Archives for "Local Governments"

theft of cash from local governments
Jul 26

Thefts of Cash From Local Governments are Common

By Charles Hall | Asset Misappropriation , Local Governments

Thefts of cash from local governments are common, are they not? 

How many times have you seen a local newspaper article like the following?

Johnson County’s longtime court clerk admitted today to stealing $120,000 of court funds from 2015 through 2016. Becky Cook, 62, faces up to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion and theft.

Thefts of Cash from Local Governments

Usually, the causes of such cash thefts are (1) decentralized collection points and (2) a lack of accounting controls.

Thefts of Cash from Local Governments

1. Decentralized Collection Points

First, consider that governments commonly have several collection points.

Examples include:

  • Recreation department
  • Police department
  • Development authority
  • Water and sewer department
  • Airport authority
  • Landfill
  • Building and code enforcement
  • Courts

Many governments have over a dozen receipting locations. With cash flowing in so many places, it’s no wonder that thefts of cash are common. Each cash receipt area may have different accounting procedures – some with physical receipt books, some with computerized receipting, and some with no receipting system at all. 

A more centralized receipting system reduces the possibility of theft, but many governments may not be able to centralize the receipting function. Why? Here are three reasons:

  1. Elected officials, such as tax commissioners, often determine how monies are collected without input from the final receiving government (e.g., county commissioners or school). Consequently, each elected official may decide to use a different receipting system.
  2. Customer convenience (e.g., recreation centers and senior citizen centers) may drive the receipting location decision.
  3. Other locations, such as landfills, are purposely placed on the outer boundary of the government’s geographic area.

What’s the result? Widely differing receipting systems. Since these numerous receipting locations have varying controls, the risk of theft is higher. 

2. Lack of Accounting Controls

Second, consider that many governments lack sufficient accounting controls for cash.

It’s more likely cash will be stolen if cash collections are not receipted. If the transaction is recorded, then the receipt record must be altered, destroyed or hidden to cover up the theft. That’s why it’s critical to capture the transaction as early as possible. Doing so makes theft more difficult.

Additional steps that will enhance your cash controls include the following:

  1. If possible, provide the government’s administrative office (e.g., county commissioners’ finance department) with electronic viewing rights for the decentralized receipting locations (e.g., landfill).
  2. Require the transfer of money on a daily basis; the government’s administrative office (e.g., county commissioners’ finance department) should provide a receipt to each transferring location (e.g., landfill).
  3. Limit the number of bank accounts.
  4. Deposit funds daily.
  5. Periodically perform surprise audits of outlying receipting areas.
  6. Use a centralized receipting location (and eliminate the decentralized cash collection points).
  7. Persons creating deposit slips and handling cash should not key those receipts into the accounting system.
  8. The person reconciling the bank statements should not also handle cash collections.
  9. Don’t allow the person billing customers to handle cash collections.

If segregation of duties is not possible (such as 7., 8. and 9. above), consider having a second person review the activity (either an employee of the government or maybe an outside consultant).

Final Thoughts About Fraud Prevention for Cash

When possible, use an experienced fraud prevention specialist to review your cash collection procedures. Can’t afford to? Think again. The average incidence of governmental fraud results in a loss of approximately $100,000.

Finally, make sure your government has sufficient fidelity bonding. If all else fails, you can recover your losses through insurance.

For more fraud prevention guidance, check out my book on Amazon; click the book below. Also, see my free slide deck titled Finding and Preventing Fraud in Local Governments. Additionally, here’s a post concerning how to audit cash.

 

omission of management, discussion and analysis
Mar 27

Omission of MD&A from Governmental Financial Statements

By Charles Hall | Auditing , Local Governments

Can a government exclude the management, discussion, and analysis from its financial  statements? This article answers that question.

According to AU-C 730, the auditor’s report on the financial statements should include an other-matter paragraph that refers to the required supplementary information (RSI). In governmental financial statements, the management, discussion, and analysis (MD&A) is considered RSI. Though the MD&A is “required” supplementary information, governments can–strangely enough–exclude it from the financial statements.

omission of management, discussion and analysis

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Omitting the MD&A – Effect on an Audit Opinion

If the required supplementary information is omitted, the auditor should include an other-matter paragraph in the opinion such as the following:

Management has omitted the management, discussion, and analysis that accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America require to be presented to supplement the basic financial statements. Such missing information, although not a part of the basic financial statements, is required by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, who considers it to be an essential part of financial reporting for placing the basic financial statements in an appropriate operational, economic, or historical context. Our opinion on the basic financial statements is not affected by this missing information.

Notice the omission of the MD&A does not affect the opinion rendered (in other words, it does not result in a modified report).

RSI Audit Standard

AU-C 730 is the audit standard for required supplementary information. Click here for an overview of the supplementary information audit standards. The former supplementary information standards were SASs 118, 119 and 120; those standards are now–under the Clarity Standards–AU-C sections 720, 725, and 730.

Omitting the MD&A – Effect on a Compilation Report

In compilation reports, the language is as follows:

Management has omitted the management, discussion and analysis that accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America require to be presented to supplement the basic financial statements. Such missing information, although not a part of the basic financial statements, is required by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board which considers it to be an essential part of financial reporting and for placing the basic financial statements in an appropriate operational, economic, or historical context. 

Funding Depreciation
Feb 05

How to Make Your Business More Profitable by Funding Depreciation

By Charles Hall | Accounting and Auditing , Local Governments

From time to time, I have clients ask me “What is funding depreciation?” And more importantly, they ask, “How can this technique make my organization more profitable and less stressful?”

Here’s a simple explanation.

Funded depreciation is the setting aside of cash in amounts equal to an organization’s annual depreciation. The purpose: to fund future purchases of capital assets with cash.

Funding Depreciation

Picture Courtesy of Canva

Funding Depreciation

Suppose you buy a $10,000 whiz-bang gizmo – a piece of equipment – that you expect to use for ten years, and at the end of the ten years you expect it to have no value. Your annual depreciation is $1,000.

In this example, a $1,000 depreciation expense is recognized annually on your income statement (depreciation decreases net income) even though no cash outlay occurs. The balance sheet includes the cost of the whiz-bang gizmo, but at the end of ten years, the equipment has a $0 book value, being fully depreciated.

The smart manager will annually set aside $1,000 in a safe investment – such as a certificate of deposit or money market account – for the future replacement of the whiz-bang gizmo.

If the company does not annually invest the $1,000, it has a few options at the end of the ten-year period:

  • Borrow the full amount for the replacement cost
  • Seek outside funding (e.g., grants)
  • Use other funds from within the organization
  • Ask U2 to do a special benefits concert – just kidding

Obviously, if you borrow money to replace the equipment, you will have to pay interest – another cash outlay. Suppose the rate is 10%. Now the organization must pay out $1,100 each year. If the organization funds the depreciation (invests $1,000 annually), it earns interest. If the entity chooses not to fund depreciation, it will pay interest.

Businesses that fund depreciation are always making money from interest (granted not much these days) rather than paying for it.

Another advantage to funding depreciation: you know you will have the money to purchase the capital asset. You’re not concerned with whether a creditor will lend you the money for the acquisition. You’re financially stronger.

Why Doesn’t Every Entity Fund Depreciation?

So why doesn’t everyone fund depreciation?

  • Some don’t understand the concept
  • Some had rather spend the cash flows for the ten years (e.g., owners taking too much in distributions)
  • Some need the money just to run the organization
  • In governments, elected officials desire to keep tax rates low while they are in office
  • In growing businesses, the owners may need the money to fund the growth of the company
  • Most importantly, it may require two cash payments (more in a moment)

Concerning the last point, if the business had to borrow money to purchase the initial capital asset, then it must make the debt service payments (cash outlay 1). If the company also funds depreciation for that same asset (making investments equal to the annual depreciation), another cash flow occurs (cash outlay 2).

If the business can ever get into a position where it pays cash for new equipment, it will be better off. Then only one cash outlay (investment funding) occurs, and the company is making–not paying–interest.

What if the organization cannot–due to cash flow constraints–fund depreciation for all new equipment purchases? Consider doing so for just one or two pieces of equipment–over time, the entity may be able to move into a fully funded position.

Who Should Fund Depreciation?

So, who should fund depreciation?

Organizations with sufficient cash flow and discipline. It’s the smart thing to do.

Imagine a world with no debt, a world where you don’t have to wonder how you will pay for equipment. Dreaming? Maybe, but funded depreciation is worth your consideration.

Single Audit under the Uniform Guidance
May 04

Single Audits under the Uniform Guidance

By Charles Hall | Accounting and Auditing , Local Governments

Recently I listened to the AICPA Governmental Audit Quality Center (GAQC) webcast titled: Uniform Guidance for Federal Awards: Auditor Planning Considerations for the New Single Audit Rules.

The presenters, Diane Edelstein, Mandy Nelson, and Mary Foelster, did a great job in providing helpful information. I made a few summary notes that are presented below; the notes are not intended to be comprehensive. The GAQC archived the presentation on their website.

Single Audit under the Uniform Guidance

Applicability of Uniform Guidance

Here’s a summary of when the new guidance is applicable.

Type of EntityEffective Date
Federal AgenciesMust implement policies and procedures by issuing regulations to be effective December 26, 2014 (accomplished with the issuance of the Joint Interim Final Rule)
Non-federal EntitiesImplement the new administrative requirements and cost principles for all new Federal awards made after December 26, 2014, and to additional funding related to existing awards ("increments") made after that date
AuditorsAudit requirements are effective for fiscal years beginning on or after December 26, 2014 (early implementation not permitted)

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deferred inflows and deferred outflows
Oct 24

GASB 63 and 65 (Deferred Outflows and Deferred Inflows) – A Summary

By Charles Hall | Accounting , Local Governments

GASB 63 and 65 provide guidance regarding deferred outflows and inflows in governments. This article provides an overview of those standards.

  • Statement No. 63 – Financial Reporting of Deferred Outflows of Resources, Deferred Inflows of Resources, and Net Position
  • Statement No. 65 – Items Previously Reported as Assets and Liabilities

deferred inflows and deferred outflows

 

What are the effective dates for Statements 63 and 65?

  • GASBS 63 is effective for periods beginning after December 15, 2011; earlier application encouraged
  • GASBS 65 is effective for periods beginning after December 15, 2012; earlier application encouraged

It is best to implement GASBS 63 and 65 at the same time.

What is the purpose of these changes?

To put it succinctly, GASB is using one of its conceptual statements (specifically Concepts Statement 4) to make revisions to reporting requirements (to include deferred outflows and deferred inflows).

Prior to GASBS 63 and 65, debit balances were reported on the statement of net position (balance sheet) as assets; similarly, all non-equity credits were reported as liabilities. The new standards add deferred outflows and deferred inflows to the mix.

All debit balances in the statement of net position will be reported as:

  • Assets
  • Deferred Outflows

Assets represent present service capacity to the government; deferred outflows (e.g., prepaid bond insurance) represent the consumption of net position applicable to future reporting periods.

Liabilities represent amounts to be paid; however, some amounts previously reported as liabilities (e.g., deferred property taxes) involve no future payment. Consequently, with the implementation of GASB 63, all non-equity credits in the statement of net position will be reported as:

  • Liabilities
  • Deferred Inflows

The difference in liabilities and deferred inflows is primarily resources that are going out and resources that are coming in. Liabilities normally represent a future surrender of resources; deferred inflows do not.

What are the main points of GASB 63?

This statement distinguishes assets from deferred outflows of resources and liabilities from deferred inflows of resources.

Additionally, many of your financial statement titles (e.g., Statement of Net Position), categories (e.g., Assets and Deferred Outflows of Resources), and notes will change. Net Assets will now be labeled Net Position.

The five elements of the statement of net position are:

  1. Assets
  2. Deferred Outflows of Resources
  3. Liabilities
  4. Deferred Inflows of Resources
  5. Net Position

The three categories of net position are:

  1. Net Investment in Capital Assets
  2. Restricted
  3. Unrestricted

Note – The requirement to change to a statement of net position (rather than a statement of net assets) – a GASBS 63 change – occurs one year earlier than the requirements of GASBS 65; you are required to change the term net assets to net position even though you may not have any deferred outflows or inflows until GASBS 65 is implemented – possibly a year later. Again it is easier to simply implement both GASBS 63 and 65 at the same time (both can be early adopted).

What are the main points of GASB 65?

  • It identifies the specific items to be categorized as deferred inflows and deferred outflows.
  • It clarifies the effect of deferred inflows and deferred outflows on the major fund determination.
  • It limits the use of the term deferred in financial statements.

What are some examples of specific items to be categorized as deferred inflows and deferred outflows?

  • The gain or loss from current or advance refundings of debt (the gain or loss will no longer be netted with the related debt but will be shown separately as a deferred outflow or a deferred inflow)
  • Prepaid insurance related to the issuance of debt
  • Property taxes received or accrued prior to the period in which they will be used

How should debt issuance costs be treated?

Debt issuance costs should be expensed when incurred. GASB concluded that debt issuance costs do not relate to future periods, and, therefore, should be expensed.

If your government has debt issuance costs (recorded as assets), you will need to remove them as you implement these standards (using a prior period adjustment).

How should cash advances related to expenditure-driven grants be recorded?

Cash advances from expenditure-driven grants should be recorded as unearned revenue (a liability). The key eligibility requirement for an expenditure-driven grant is the use of funds (which does not occur until funds are spent). Any grant funds received prior to meeting eligibility requirements will be shown as a liability. It is improper to use the word deferred for this line item; for example, deferred revenue is not appropriate. The more appropriate title is unearned revenue.

How do these standards affect the determination of major funds?

Assets should be combined with deferred outflows of resources and liabilities should be combined with deferred inflows of resources for purposes of determining which elements meet the criteria for major fund determination.

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