Statements of Federal Accounting Concepts and Standards

260 FW 5
FWM Number
260 FW 5 and Exhibit 1, FWM 412, 11/26/2002
Originating Office
Branch of Financial Policy and Analytics


Topics Sections 

5.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? 

5.2 What is the scope of this chapter? 

5.3 What are the authorities for this chapter? 

5.4 What is the overall Service policy? 

5.5 What terms do you need to know to understand this chapter? 

RESPONSIBILITIES 5.6 What are the responsibilities for meeting the requirements in the standards this chapter describes? 

5.7 How are accounting standards and concepts developed for the Federal Government?

5.8 What are some of the key Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board concepts and standards?


5.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter provides policy and procedures for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) employees who collect, maintain, and report financial management information in accordance with the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board’s (FASAB) Statements of Federal Financial Accounting Concepts (SFFAC) and Statements of Federal Financial Accounting Standards (SFFAS). 

5.2 What is the scope of this chapter? This chapter applies to all Service employees involved with financial management information as we describe in section 5.1.

5.3 What are the authorities for this chapter?

A. Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950 (Public Law 95-125).

B. Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, as amended (Public Law 67-13).

C. Budget and Accounting Procedures Act of 1950, as amended (Public Law 81-784).

D. Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-576).

E. Department of the Interior’s (Department) Office of Financial Management, Financial Statement Guidance Handbook.

F. Department’s Office of Financial Management, Accounting Handbook.

G. Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208).

H. Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act of 1982 (FMFIA) (Public Law 97-255).

I. Government Management Reform Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-356).

J. Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 (Public Law 103-62).

K. GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-352)

L. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular No. A-11, Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget.

M. OMB Circular No. A-134, Financial Accounting Principles and Standards.

N330 Departmental Manual (DM) 2, Principal Authoritative Sources for Financial Policies and Accounting Standards.

O330 DM 3, DOI Financial Management/Accounting Organization.

5.4 What is the overall Service policy? The Service must place all financial transactions under general ledger control by ensuring that they are recorded in the Financial and Business Management System (FBMS). Other qualitative information describing Service assets (e.g., lands, facilities, cultural or historical resources) and program performance is integral to accurate financial reporting. It includes information necessary to confirm the existence and value of assets held, coupled with condition assessments, liability estimates, and revenues generated. The Service programs that are assigned and administer such assets are responsible for collecting, updating, managing, and maintaining the relevant data in FBMS. We must maintain, validate, and report on the data consistent with Federal accounting standards and concepts.

A. External reporting. We must manage qualitative and quantitative financial information that we publish or otherwise report to outside entities. Both internal reviewers and external auditors review the data consistent with the requirements of Federal accounting standards and concepts.

B. Internal reporting. In addition to what is required for external reporting, Service program and data managers may keep financial information as they deem necessary for internal purposes to support management's need to manage the programs effectively.

5.5 What terms do you need to know to understand this chapter?

A. Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) is a U.S. Federal advisory committee. Its mission is to improve Federal financial reporting by issuing Federal financial accounting standards and providing guidance.

B. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) are a collection of commonly followed accounting rules and standards for financial reporting that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted for national use. The specifications of GAAP include definitions of concepts and principles, as well as industry-specific rules. The purpose of GAAP is to ensure that financial reporting is transparent and consistent from one organization to another. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Council designated FASAB as the body that establishes GAAP for Federal entities.

C. U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) Judgment Fund was established by Congress in the 1950s to pay in whole or in part the court judgments and settlement agreements negotiated by the Justice Department on behalf of agencies, as well as certain types of administrative awards.


5.6 What are the responsibilities for meeting the requirements in the standards this chapter describes? See Table 5-1.

Table 5-1: Responsibilities for Meeting Federal Accounting Standards

These employees…Are responsible for…
A. The DirectorApproving or declining to approve Servicewide policy.
B. Directorate members (i.e., Regional Directors; Assistant Directors; Director, National Conservation Training Center; Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System)

(1) Ensuring that all financial information the Service uses for external reports to OMB and Treasury is in accordance with Federal accounting standards, and

(2) Maintaining internal accounting and administrative controls that ensure the accuracy of financial management data and the communication of all financial transactions to FBMS.

C. Assistant Director – Management and Administration (i.e., AD-MA or Associate Chief Financial Officer)Ensuring that all Service programs and systems adhere to applicable Federal accounting standards for collecting and using financial information.
D. Joint Administrative Operations (JAO), Administrative Operations Center (AOC), Financial Operations Division Chief

(1) Issuing guidance on the application of Federal accounting standards,

(2) Directing the development and operation of FBMS to ensure compliance with applicable standards,

(3) Providing assistance to programs in interpreting and applying Federal accounting standards to program activities and external reporting, and

(4) Ensuring Service external financial reports comply with applicable standards.

E. JAO, AOC, Financial Statement Operations TeamParticipating in the Department’s Financial Statement Guidance Team to identify and resolve issues related to the preparation and audit of Departmental financial reports.


5.7 How are accounting standards and concepts developed for the Federal Government? The FASAB develops accounting standards and principles for the Federal Government by:

A. Considering comments they receive from the public, Congress, managers, and other users of Federal financial information on its proposed standards and concepts, which are widely distributed as exposure drafts;

B. Deliberating on the information presented in exposure drafts;

C. Presenting a draft statement to the Principals (i.e., Secretary of the Treasury; the Director, OMB; and the Comptroller of the United States, who is the Director of the Government Accountability Office), who have 90 days within which to review and deliberate; and

D. If there are no objections, publishing the statements that become GAAP, to which Federal Government reporting entities must adhere.

5.8 What are some of the key FASAB concepts and standards?

A. Statements of Federal Financial Accounting Concepts (SFFAC) differ from SFFAS in that they are more general and do not contain specific authoritative requirements for Federal agencies. After approval by FASAB, SFFACs provide general guidance to FASAB itself as it deliberates on specific issues. They are also useful to OMB and other agencies in understanding Federal accounting and financial reports (see the online FASAB handbook for a complete list).

B. Statements of Federal Financial Accounting Standards (SFFAS) refer to formal documents the FASAB issues that detail accounting standards and guidance on selected accounting policies the FASAB develops. They document conceptual statements on the objectives of financial reporting by the Federal Government. They focus on the uses, user needs, and objectives of reporting. The end objectives of these standards are to demonstrate Federal accountability, provide useful information on Federal accounting, and help internal users of financial information improve the Federal Government’s management (see the online FASAB handbook for a complete list).

C. Interpretations are FASAB releases that clarify original meaning, add definitions, and provide other guidance for existing SFFAS. They are narrow in scope. FASAB responds to requests for guidance by providing technical assistance, including interpretations in some cases (see the online FASAB handbook for a complete list).

D. Technical bulletins provide guidance for applying SFFAS and interpretations and resolving issues not directly addressed by them. The bulletins are generally in question and answer format.

E. Technical releases are developed by the Accounting and Auditing Policy Committee as implementation guidance, and the FASAB reviews and publishes them(see the online FASAB handbook for a complete list).

F. Staff implementation guidance is issued when necessary if a majority of the FASAB does not object(see the online FASAB handbook for a complete list).