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Add It Up: Students Provide Advice on Federal Accounting

Students in the Government and Not-For-Profit Accounting and Auditing class present ideas on making financial information more accessible to the public.

Proving that the George Washington University School of Business is truly at the intersection of business and government, GWSB students recently got the chance to present ideas to a panel of industry experts on ways that the federal government can provide better financial information to the public.

The federal government is struggling with ways to communicate and report on its financial condition.  Some argue that the federal government uses a complicated financial statement reporting model that doesn’t provide the American public with a keen understanding of the risks and challenges facing the U.S. in the short-term and long-term, according to adjunct professor Andrew Lewis.

The question of how the federal government can provide such meaningful information is a key question that the chief financial officers of federal agencies, members of Capitol Hill and staff within the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) are trying to answer right now.

Students in the Government and Not-For-Profit Accounting and Auditing class, taught by Lewis, made recommendations on topics such as what financial information should be presented in federal financial statements, how the federal can government do a better job of informing the public of its short-term and long-term financial challenges, and how the government can better communicate federal financial information.  Students recommended that the federal government use less complex language to describe financial information, develop a central portal for the public to access all of the financial information available and implement a highlighting tool that would allow readers to get definitions for words they didn’t understand, among other recommendations.

Students presented their ideas to a group that included Jeffrey Steinhoff, executive director of KPMG LLP’s Government Institute and the former managing director of financial management and assurance at the U.S. Government Accountability Office; Evie Barry, the director of performance reporting at the Association of Government Accountants; and Doreen Shute, a partner at Clifton Gunderson and regional chair of accountability and outreach of the Association of Government Accountants.

After their presentations, panelists provided students with “real-world” insights on the ideas they developed in the classroom.

Posted by gwsb on April 7, 2011 | Filed under: GWSB News.


1 Comment »

  1. Very impressive, Andrew. But then, so much that you do-both in and out of both the profession and the GWU community-is. Congrats and thanks for the excellent work. It is ultimately the students who benefit the most.

    Comment by Larry Schwartz — April 12, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

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