The Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting Program
Preparing a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
The Certificate of Excellence Program
ASBO International established the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting (COE) Program in 1972 to encourage and recognize excellence in school system comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFRs). The COE is proudly sponsored by VALIC.
The primary objective of the program is to promote high-quality school system financial reporting through the preparation of a CAFR using the guidelines of the COE Program.
Experienced accounting professionals with a background in governmental accounting and auditing developed the program guidelines based upon specific standards established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board has stated that every governmental entity, including school entities, should prepare and publish a CAFR. The CAFR serves as the school system's official annual report and contains introductory information, schedules necessary to demonstrate compliance with finance-related legal and contractual provisions, and statistical data.
The purpose of the financial statements is to report on the financial position and operations of the school system (including its blended component units) and provide an overview of the discretely presented component units. The CAFR enables school business officials to educate the school board and the public about the status of a school system's finances.
Participation is Rewarding
Through the COE Program, ASBO publicly acknowledges a superior CAFR by issuing the prestigious Certificate of Excellence Award to school systems that meet the guidelines of the program. Applications are received from more than 400 school systems and community-supported educational institutions annually.
More than 90% of program participants cite credibility as their top motivator for applying to the COE Program. Preparing and presenting a CAFR validates the credibility of the school system's operations, measures the integrity and technical competence of the business staff, assists in strengthening presentations for bond issuance statements, and provides professional recognition.
Receiving the Certificate of Excellence Award gives a superintendent and school board confidence about their school system and its business management staff. Receiving the award has also meant stronger investor confidence and a positive impact on debt issuance for many school systems.
The Application Process
Within six months of the close of the system's fiscal year, school systems submit the following documents to ASBO International for review:
- A letter signed by the school system's chief financial officer,
requesting that the CAFR be reviewed under ASBO's Certificate of
Excellence in Financial Reporting Program
- One copy of the Certificate
of Excellence Application
- Three copies of the CAFR
- Three copies of a completed ASBO International Self-Evaluation
Worksheet (new applicants' only)
- A check for the application fee based on the total revenue for all funds of the school system
The application is forwarded to two professionals experienced in governmental accounting and auditing. Each member performs a review, prepares relevant comments, and decides whether to issue or deny the award. More than 100 accounting professionals and school business officials currently serve as program reviewers.
ASBO International receives the award decision and comments, and the school system is notified in writing. Every participating school system receives comprehensive feedback regarding its CAFR, regardless of the award decision.