Government building

Authored by Jodi Dobson and Gwen Zech

After the release of six new standards in the first half of 2020, there have not been any new Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) standards issued since that time. In this quarterly GASB update, we provide an update on the status of current projects on the GASB board’s agenda. The conceptual framework, comprehensive projects and practice issues will likely result in authoritative guidance issued in the future and could have a significant impact on public sector organizations.

Conceptual frameworks

Disclosure Framework:

The objective of this project is to develop concepts related to a framework for the development and evaluation of notes to financial statements for the purpose of improving the effectiveness of note disclosures in government financial reports. The framework will establish criteria for the Board to use in evaluating potential note disclosure requirements during future standards-setting activities and in reexamining existing note disclosure requirements. Those concepts also will provide governments a basis for considering the essentiality of information items for which the GASB does not specifically provide authoritative disclosure guidance.

May 2021 update: The Concepts Statement, Communication Methods in General Purpose External Financial Reports that Contain Basic Financial Statements; Notes to Financial Statements, has taken a turn from the original timeline. There were specific discussions related to the concept of essentiality. As the concept of essentiality is significant to the Concepts Statement, it would have a broad impact to users of the financial statements and Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council indicated some concern over the significance of the change in the proposed definition; the Board voted to re-expose the proposed concepts in an exposure draft.

GASB anticipates the comment period on this revised exposure draft of this Concepts Statement to open in July 2021.

Recognition:

The objective of this project is to develop recognition criteria for whether information should be reported in state and local governmental financial statements and when that information should be reported. This project ultimately will lead to a Concepts Statement on recognition of elements of financial statements.

May 2021 update: After public hearings were held in March and April 2021, GASB is currently redeliberating the drafted Concepts Statement, Recognition of Elements of Financial Statements. The agenda on this Concepts Statement extends well into 2022.

Comprehensive projects

Financial Reporting Model – Reexamination of Statements Nos. 34, 35, 37, 41 and 46 and Interpretation 6:

The objective of this project is to make improvements to the financial reporting model, including Statement No. 34, Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—for State and Local Governments, and other reporting model-related pronouncements (Statements No. 35, Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—for Public Colleges and Universities, No. 37, Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—for State and Local Governments: Omnibus, No. 41, Budgetary Comparison Schedules—Perspective Differences, and No. 46, Net Assets Restricted by Enabling Legislation, and Interpretation No. 6, Recognition and Measurement of Certain Liabilities and Expenditures in Governmental Fund Financial Statements). The objective of these improvements would be to enhance the effectiveness of the model in providing information that is essential for decision-making and enhance the ability to assess a government’s accounting and to address certain application issues, based upon the results of the pre-agenda research on the financial reporting model.

May 2021 update: After public hearings were held in March and April 2021, GASB is currently redeliberating the drafted Statement, Financial Reporting Model Improvements. The agenda on this Concepts Statement extends into 2022 with a draft expected in first quarter 2022.

Revenue and Expense Recognition:

The overall objective of this project is to develop a comprehensive, principles-based model that would establish categorization, recognition and measurement guidance applicable to a wide range of revenue and expense transactions. Achieving that objective will include: (1) development of guidance applicable to topics for which existing guidance is limited, (2) improvement of existing guidance that has been identified as challenging to apply, (3) consideration of a performance obligation approach to the GASB’s authoritative literature and (4) assessment of existing and proposed guidance based on the conceptual framework. The expected outcome of the project is enhanced quality of information that users rely upon in making decisions and assessing accountability.

On the heels of the Financial Accounting Standards Boards (FASB) roll out of the revenue recognition guidance, GASB has taken up a similar project reviewing the guidance for recognition of revenues and expenses. Deliberations are anticipated to be ongoing through November 2022. While this project is not anticipated for completion until 2025, the broad application and impact will make it one to keep up to date with its progress.

Practice issues

Compensated Absences – Reexamination of Statement No. 16:

The objective of this project is to address certain issues related to accounting and financial reporting for compensated absences. The project will consider improvements to the existing guidance in Statement No. 16, Accounting for Compensated Absences, related to: (1) addressing certain types of accrued leave benefits that are not covered in Statement 16, (2) measurement options for sick leave and (3) the usefulness of required notes to financial statements for decision-making and assessing accountability.

May 2021 update: An exposure draft was issued in February 2021. The comment period is scheduled to close in June 2021 after which GASB will determine its redeliberation plan.

Implementation Guidance – 2021 Update:

The objective of this project is to update implementation guidance for additional issues that come to the attention of GASB staff. This project will result in the issuance of an annual Implementation Guide. In addition, all updates will be incorporated into the Codification of Governmental Accounting and Financial Reporting Standards and the Comprehensive Implementation Guide, as appropriate. The comment period continued through February 2021 with a final draft to be considered for approval in May 2021.

Omnibus:

The objective of this proposed project is to address various technical corrections and other issues that have been identified in practice. Topics include:

  • Remeasurement of certain assets and liabilities within GASB Statement Nos. 87, 94 and 96
  • Effect of a purchase option on contract terms and the measurement of the liability within GASB Statement Nos. 87, 94 and 96
  • Consideration of a third category of derivative that does not fall into Statement No. 53 or No. 72
  • Recognition of exchange and exchange-like financial guaranties

An exposure draft is forthcoming in mid-2021 with a comment period from July to October 2021.

Prior period adjustments, accounting changes, and error corrections – Reexamination of GASB Statement No. 62:

The objective of this project is to improve the accounting and financial reporting for prior-period adjustments, accounting changes and error corrections in Statement No. 62, Codification of Accounting and Financial Reporting Guidance Contained in Pre-November 30, 1989 FASB and AICPA Pronouncements. The project will fully reexamine the existing standards to address issues related to (1) inconsistency in practice, (2) confusion about and difficulty applying regarding the requirements and (3) the usefulness of the related disclosures. This topic is new to the GASB agenda and initial considerations kicked off in January 2021. After release of an exposure draft, a comment period is anticipated from June to August 2021.

Risks and Uncertainties Disclosures:

The primary objectives of this practice-issue project are to identify potential risks and uncertainties in the state and local government environment and to consider developing disclosure requirements associated with those risks and uncertainties. Currently initial deliberations are ongoing and an exposure draft is anticipated mid-2021.

Lastly, GASB has added a Renaming the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report practice issue to their agenda for consideration. An exposure draft has been released and a comment period will be open from June to July 2021.

Below is a recap from past Baker Tilly updates of current accounting standards that might impact your organization, projected effective dates and resources from Baker Tilly technical research and the GASB website to use while implementing new standards.

GASB Statement No. 87 – Leases

Most organizations have transitioned their immediate focus on the implementation of GASB 87 as it will become effective for most fiscal 2022 year-end financial statements. GASB 87 defines a lease as a contract that conveys control of the right to use another entity’s non-financial asset for a period of greater than one year. Purchased power agreements are exempt from this treatment (unlike the Financial Accounting Standards Board lease standard). GASB 87 is effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2021.

GASB Statement No. 87
Lease Accounting (ASC 842 and GASB 87) resources (NEW)
Get compliant with GASB 87: a guided approach to the new lease accounting standard
GASB 87 lease assistance tool
Five steps for implementing the GASB 87 lease standard
GASB 87 countdown: Are you ready for lease accounting changes
GASB 87: lease term podcast
GASB 87: lessee accounting podcast
GASB 87: lessor accounting podcast
Preparing for lease accounting under GASB 87

Implementation Guide No. 2019-3, Implementation Guide for GASB Statement No. 87 – Leases

Guide 2019-3 was issued in August 2019 and contains questions and answers to assist in implementing GASB Statement No. 87. This guide is effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2021. Earlier application is encouraged if Statement No. 87 has been implemented.

Implementation Guide 2019-3
Additional lease implementation questions were issued in Implementation Guide 2020-1.

GASB Statement No. 89 – Accounting for Interest Cost Incurred before the End of Construction Period

GASB 89 requires that interest costs incurred before the end of a construction period will not be capitalized unless electing GASB 62 Regulated Operations accounting if these costs are included in utility rates. GASB 89 is effective for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2020.

GASB Statement No. 89
How capitalized interest changes impact utility rate cost recovery

GASB Statement No. 91 – Conduit Debt Obligations

GASB 91 provides a single method of reporting conduit debt obligations by issuers and eliminates diversity in practice associated with (1) commitments extended by issuers, (2) arrangements associated with conduit debt obligations and (3) related note disclosures. The Statement clarifies the existing definition of a conduit debt obligation, i.e. that it is not a liability of the issuer but it is a debt instrument having all of the following characteristics:

  1. A least three parties involved: 1) an issuer, 2) a third-party obligor and 3) a debt holder or debt trustee
  2. Issuer and third-party obligor are not within the same financial reporting entity
  3. Debt obligation is not a parity bond of the issuer, nor is it cross-collateralized with other debt of the issuer
  4. Third-party obligor or its agent, not the issuer, ultimately receives the proceeds from the debt issuance
  5. Third-party obligor, not the issuer, is primarily obligated for the payment of all amounts associated with the debt obligation

GASB 91 is effective for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2021.

GASB Statement No. 91
Additional GASB 91 implementation questions were issued in Implementation Guide 2020-1.

GASB Statement No. 92 – Omnibus 2020

Omnibus statements are issued by GASB to address practice issues identified after other standards have been approved for implementation. Omnibus statements “clear up the loose ends” for recent prior statements GASB has issued. This Omnibus addresses eight recent pronouncements, including GASB 87 – Leases, GASB 84 – Fiduciary Activities, and GASB 83 – Asset Retirement Obligations.

GASB 92 is effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2021. Earlier application is encouraged and is permitted by topic.

GASB Statement No. 92

GASB Statement No. 93 – Replacement of Interbank Offered Rates

GASB 93 establishes accounting and reporting requirements related to the replacement of Interbank Offered Rates such as the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) for hedging derivative instruments. As a result of global reference rate reform, LIBOR is expected to cease to exist in its current form after Dec. 31, 2021. The requirements of this Statement, except for paragraphs 11b, 13, and 14 are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2020. The requirement in paragraph 11b is effective for reporting periods ending after Dec. 31, 2021. The requirements in paragraphs 13 and 14 are effective for fiscal years periods beginning after June 15, 2021, and all reporting periods thereafter. Earlier application is encouraged.

GASB Statement No. 93

GASB Statement No. 94 – Public-Private and Public-Public Partnerships and Availability Payment Arrangements

A public-private and public-public partnership arrangement (PPP) is an arrangement in which a government (the transferor) contracts with an operator (a governmental or nongovernmental entity) to provide public services by conveying control of the right to operate or use a nonfinancial asset, such as infrastructure or other capital asset (the underlying PPP asset), for a period of time in an exchange or exchange-like transaction. An availability payment arrangement (APA) is an arrangement in which a government compensates an operator for services that may include designing, constructing, financing, maintaining, or operating an underlying nonfinancial asset for a period of time in an exchange or exchange-like transaction. GASB 94 establishes financial reporting and accounting for PPPs and APAs. GASB 94 is effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2022.

GASB Statement No. 94

GASB Statement No. 96 – Subscription-Based Information Technology Arrangements

GASB 96 provides guidance on accounting for Subscription-Based Information Technology Arrangements (SBITA) where the government contracts for the right to use another party’s software. The standards for SBITAs are based on the standards established in GASB Statement No. 87, Leases. GASB 96 is effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2022.

GASB Statement No. 96

GASB Statement No. 97 – Certain Component Unit Criteria, and Accounting and Financial Reporting for Internal Revenue Code Section 457 Deferred Compensation Plans – an amendment of GASB Statements No. 14 and No. 84, and a supersession of GASB Statement No. 32

The statement (1) requires that a Section 457 plan be classified as either a pension plan or another employee benefit plan depending on whether the plan meets the definition of a pension plan and (2) clarifies that Statement 84, as amended, should be applied to all arrangements organized under IRC Section 457 to determine whether those arrangements should be reported as fiduciary activities.

GASB Statement No. 97

The requirements of this Statement are effective as follows:

  • The requirements in (1) paragraph 4 of this Statement as it applies to defined contribution pension plans, defined contribution OPEB plans and other employee benefit plans and (2) paragraph 5 of this Statement are effective immediately
  • The requirements in paragraphs 6–9 of this Statement are effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2021
  • All other requirements of this Statement are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2021

Earlier application is encouraged and is permitted by specific requirement as follows:

  • Paragraph 4 of this Statement as it applies to arrangements other than defined contribution pension plans, defined contribution OPEB plans or other employee benefit plans
  • Paragraphs 6–9 of this Statement and the supersession of the remaining requirements of Statement 32 (as detailed in paragraph 3 of this Statement)

Questions 4.3 and 4.5 of Implementation Guide 2019-2, as amended, are effective for reporting periods beginning after Dec. 15, 2019. Earlier application is encouraged if Statement 84, as amended, has been implemented.

Implementation Guide No. 2020-1, Implementation Guide Update – 2020

Guide 2020-1 was issued in April 2020 and contains new questions and answers (Q&A) in addition to clarifying previously issued Q&A from past implementation guides. Topics covered include: The Financial Reporting Entity, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Certain Investments and for External Investment Pools, Fiduciary Activities, Leases, Asset Retirement Obligations, Conduit Debt Obligations, Pensions and OPEBs. Questions in this guide are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2021 through Dec. 15, 2021. Earlier application is encouraged if related pronouncements have been implemented.

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly public sector specialists can help, contact our team.

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