Nonauthoritative Considerations in the Preparation of a CAFR

Best Practice

The first publication of the “Blue Book” was in 1936 by the National Committee on Municipal Accounting.[1] The NCMA, as it was known, was established by GFOA’s predecessor association and served as the first widely-acknowledged standard-setter for governmental accounting and financial reporting.[2]  The last authoritative Blue Book, entitled Government Accounting, Auditing and Financial Reporting (GAAFR) published in 1968.[3] 

Beginning with the 1980 edition of the Blue Book and continuing through all subsequent editions, GFOA has published the GAAFR as a practice aid, rather than as an authoritative accounting literature.[4] As such, the GAAFR provides a great deal of suggested guidance on the preparation of governments’ comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFRs).  Many of these suggestions constitute requirements of the GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement for Financial Reporting Award (CAFR Award).  GFOA believes that these are best practices for all governments to adopt, unless their unique circumstances dictate otherwise.


GFOA recommends that all governments consider the contents of the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program Requirements – Non-GAAP Item [5] list of non-authoritative suggestions when preparing their CAFRs.  Governments should adopt all of the included program requirements that are applicable to their circumstances and with which the government can reasonably comply, unless their unique circumstances dictate otherwise.  From time-to-time, this list will be reviewed and updated by GFOA staff and approved by GFOA’s Committee on Accounting, Auditing, and Financial Reporting, in order to keep this best practice up-to-date.


[1]Gauthier, Stephen J., Governmental Accounting, Auditing and Financial Reporting, Government Finance Officers Association, 2012, page xix.

[2] Hardiman, Patrick F., The CPA Journal Online, “Governmental accounting: who’s in charge?” May 1989.

[3] Gauthier, p.24.

[4] Ibid, footnote 10.

[5] This list can be found on GFOA’s website.

Approved by GFOA's Executive Board: 
March 2019