The streak goes on and on

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2013

One could argue the City of Washington could use more money to improve the city. One can argue the city could do a better job of spending the money it has.

But when it comes to keeping track of its revenues and expenses, the city does an excellent job. How so? Well, earning a Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting for the 17th year in a row is testament to just how well the city’s Finance Department oversees Washington’s fiscal health.

The award, from the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada, is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. In order to be awarded a CAFR, a government must publish an easily readable and efficiently organized comprehensive annual financial report.

Earning the award is not as simple as applying for it. CAFR recipients must meet specific, stringent standards established by the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada. Carol Williams, the city’s former chief finance officer, knew that when she first decided to submit the city for consideration for a CAFR.

Washington’s 17-year streak of being awarded a CAFR began under Williams’ tenure as the city’s fiscal watchdog. That streak continues under Matt Rauschenbach, the city’s current chief financial officer and assistant city manager. Williams and Rauschenbach will be quick to tell anyone the staff members of Washington’s Finance Department have been instrumental in the city winning 17 consecutive CAFRs.

They’re right. It’s the staff members who work hard and do what’s needed to put the city in position to earn a CAFR each year. It’s a team effort, with that team effort resulting in the city’s bookkeeping process being recognized as an excellent effort.

That effort has also paid off in recent years with the city receiving an “unqualified opinion,” the best opinion that can be given in an independent audit of the city’s financial books.

So, the city and its Finance Department should take pride in the 17th-consecutive Certificate of Achievement for Financial Reporting. And Washington residents should take pride in that award, too.