Your Annual Report is Anything but Annual

March 10, 2016 – Mike McCann


Did you know that your Annual Template Reports are valuable all year long, not just once a year? The Annual Template is often misunderstood: while it is designed to show a full year’s totals in a single column – this does not mean that the column (or the full report) should only be looked at or updated annually. Think about a single year in accounting. Your accounting cycle may change your revenue and expense account totals many times in the course of a year.

Both budgets and results for current and previous fiscal years change as:

  • Draft budgets go through publishable milestones
  • Legislators adopt the budget
  • Encumbrances and prior-year roll-overs are added to the final working budget
  • The current budget is amended with minor monthly amendments and a major mid-year update
  • Interim actual results are released throughout the year
  • The preliminary estimate – the first pass at year-end estimates – is completed, often six months into the year
  • First Close: Normal month-end procedures are completed at end of the fiscal year
  • Second Close: Year-end accruals and conversions to modified accrual basis are added
  • Final Close: Accounting adjustments are completed for non-operating items
  • Final audited results are released at the conclusion of the CAFR and audit fieldwork

You can use your Annual Template reports in many creative ways if you routinely upload data to keep your current operating results and transaction details fresh. Think about how much more valuable you can make your existing Annual Template reporting. In this example, you can upload data sets from any of these stages to tell your story to the public and to internal stakeholders.

You can inform your team, and possibly the public, how the budget evolved. Show how the actual results came in during the year, were finalized after the end of the year, and were changed by the auditors. Annotating key changes helps explain the work done at each stage.

If the economy is in transition, or the community is experiencing an economic boom or natural catastrophe, then the differences between the budget that began the year and the final audited results may be significant. Understanding the changes helps prepare for building the next budget, for supporting the local business community, and for promoting long-term economic stability.



Mike McCann moved into government service in Ukiah, then Monterey CA, after beginning his career in corporate (ADP, Wells Fargo Bank, Blue Shield of CA), not-for-profit (Blue Shield of Ca, Mendocino Private Industry Council), and start-up accounting. For the last 20 years, Mike has been hands-on with budget, financial reporting and accounting operations, including City budgets and CAFRs. He holds a B.S.  in Accounting from SJSU and M.S. in Instructional Technology from  CSUMB.

Contact Mike with questions or comments at mmccann@opengov.com.

Category: Product Advice