How to Create and Use Tribal Governments’ Financial Statements: New Guide

Native American tribal governments are a unique type of entity in the United States. While they maintain status as a sovereign nation, they also rely heavily on funding from the U.S. government, and thus are required to regularly provide financial reports to both their own tribe members and state and federal government officials.

Given their unique status, the financial information needs of tribes and related entities differ significantly from those of a state or local government, nonprofit or international corporation. Historically, accounting standard setters, however, have not taken these key differences into account, leaving both preparers and users of tribal financial statements confused about best practices.

To help address this issue, I recently contributed to the Financial Reporting and Information Guide for Tribal Governments and Their Enterprises, released at NAFOA's 35th Annual Conference in San Francisco. The guide addresses the complex economic activity and related entity differences experienced by tribal governments. It also presents an overview of the financial reporting framework in a tribal setting and contains chapters focused on reporting on common entities such as housing, healthcare, education and enterprises, as well as an FAQ section that addresses the most common questions on tribal financial reporting.

This guide will assist tribal governments in providing transparent, accurate information to their key internal and external stakeholders and will help users better understand a tribe’s financial dealings and make decisions based on reporting results. It includes clear, concise guidance on critical accounting concerns including:
 
  • Auditing tribal 401(k) retirement plans and employee benefit plans
  • GASB No. 34: Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—For State and Local Governments
  • GASB No. 72: Fair Value Measurement and Application
  • Federal grants and contracts

The ten-chapter resource guide was informally reviewed by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Visit NAFOA's online bookstore to order your copy.