Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Major Changes in Public Pension Reporting and Forecasts (GASB)

The cognoscenti will recognize GASB as the Government Accounting Standards Board and not as the symbol for Gasbag Holdings, or somesuch.
From the GASB:

GASB Improves Pension Accounting and Financial Reporting Standards
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) today voted to approve two new standards that will substantially improve the accounting and financial reporting of public employee pensions by state and local governments. Statement No. 67, Financial Reporting for Pension Plans, revises existing guidance for the financial reports of most pension plans. Statement No. 68, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions, revises and establishes new financial reporting requirements for most governments that provide their employees with pension benefits.

“The new standards will improve the way state and local governments report their pension liabilities and expenses, resulting in a more faithful representation of the full impact of these obligations,” said GASB Chairman Robert H. Attmore. “Among other improvements, net pension liabilities will be reported on the balance sheet, providing citizens and other users of these financial reports with a clearer picture of the size and nature of the financial obligations to current and former employees for past services rendered.”

Pension plans are distinguished for financial reporting purposes in two ways. First, plans are classified by whether the income or other benefits that the employee will receive at or after separation from employment are defined by the benefit terms (a defined benefit plan) or whether the pensions an employee will receive will depend only on the contributions to the employee’s account, actual earnings on investments of those contributions, and other factors (a defined contribution plan).

In addition, defined benefit plans are classified based on the number of governments participating in a particular pension plan and whether assets and obligations are shared among the participating governments. Categories include plans where only one employer participates (single employer); plans in which assets are pooled for investment purposes, but each employer’s share of the pooled assets is legally available to pay the benefits of only its employees (agent employer); and plans in which participating employers pool or share obligations to provide pensions to their employees and plan assets can be used to pay the benefits of employees of any participating employer (cost-sharing employer).

Statement 68 (Employers)
Statement 68 replaces the requirements of Statement No. 27, Accounting for Pensions by State and Local Governmental Employers and Statement No. 50, Pension Disclosures, as they relate to governments that provide pensions through pension plans administered as trusts or similar arrangements that meet certain criteria. Statement 68 requires governments providing defined benefit pensions to recognize their long-term obligation for pension benefits as a liability for the first time, and to more comprehensively and comparably measure the annual costs of pension benefits. The Statement also enhances accountability and transparency through revised and new note disclosures and required supplementary information (RSI)....MORE