The government is becoming more fiscally responsible to taxpayers as 17 of the record 22 federal agencies that completed their Performance and Accountability Reports 45 days after the end of the 2004 fiscal year received unqualified audit opinions on their financial statements.
The news is significant in a couple of ways – a record number of agencies maintained high performance levels of previous years, but did so while dramatically accelerating their financial reporting.
“A significant milestone has been achieved in federal financial management. Major federal agencies were able to maintain a comparable number of unqualified audit opinions to the prior year while accelerating their reporting (after accounting for prior year revisions). This continues progress made to ensure that the federal government is accounting for the taxpayers’ money in a timely and accurate manner,” said Linda Springer, Controller for the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Financial Management.
Of the 24 major federal agencies, one agency – the Small Business Administration – received a qualified opinion. Five agencies – the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Justice and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – received disclaimers. One agency – the Department of Health and Human Services – has not yet issued an audit report.
OMB reported that as a result of the increased audit work at several of the agencies that did not receive an unqualified opinion, some issues came up that simply could not be resolved in time to meet the accelerated reporting deadline.
It also pointed out that noteworthy progress was made at SBA, whose audit opinion improved from a disclaimer to a qualified opinion in fiscal year 2004. The improvements made by SBA over the past year have positioned it well for receiving an unqualified opinion in the future, OMB stated.
So the good news is that the government, at least most of it, is becoming more fiscally reponsible. At least when it comes to financial reporting, anyway.