The First Quarter Century of the GASB (1984-2009) Part I: A Perspective on Standard Setting
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (hereafter GASB or Board) was established in April 1984 as the authoritative accounting standard-setting body for United States state and local governmental entities. There are over 87,000 state and local entities in the country, and for the most part these entities are required to comply with the generally accepted accounting principles established by the GASB; hence, the work of the GASB is significant.
On 30 June 2009, the GASB completed its twenty-fifth year of standard setting. Because of the Board's influence and the importance of its mission, an increased understanding of the GASB and its accomplishments during its first 25 years of existence is important.
This is the first of two papers which together provide a complete sequential treatment of the GASB's operational history through the end of its first quarter century. This first paper begins with an historical perspective about municipal accounting issues from colonial times to 1934. The origin of professional self-determining standards is the feature of the next section, identifying standard-setting bodies that contributed to municipal accounting from 1934 to 1984. The early activities of the Board are then reviewed. Two appendices are provided to detail the composition of the Board during its first quarter century, along with biographical information about the early Board members and later Chair and Vice Chair personnel. This segment concludes with a review of the relationship of other governmental standard setting bodies at the federal level and the international level.