The VIRGINIA LOCALITIES FISCAL PERFORMANCE REPORT – JANUARY 2019 analyzes the fiscal health of Virginia municipalities and recommends that CAFRs be produced using financial data standards such as Inline XBRL. This report was prepared by XBRL US members, Yossef Newman, Professor of Business and Accounting at Touro College, Marc Joffe, Senior Policy Analyst at Reason Foundation, and by Ez-XBRL Solutions, Inc.
Below are excerpts from the report related to financial data collection.
“The last decade has witnessed a series of local government fiscal crises….In this study, we employ a fiscal scoring system developed from data in multiple states to determine which Virginia municipalities may be at risk….
Financial Data Collection
As noted in the methodology section, scores are primarily driven by data obtained from audited financial statements produced by local governments. Public sector entities that expend more than $750,000 in federal funds annually and/or issue municipal bonds are required to produced audited financial statements, often called Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs)….
While CAFRs are relatively easy to find, collecting data from them is difficult. Because the documents are in PDF format, relevant financial statistics must be located and re-entered into a computer spreadsheet or database. As a result, it is costly and difficult to develop and maintain local government scoring systems like the one presented in this study or the more complex system used by the Virginia Auditor. As we discuss in the policy recommendations section below, these systems could be more easily maintained and enhanced by replacing PDF-based local government financial reporting with a more advanced reporting standard such as Inline eXtensible Business Reporting Language (iXBRL).”
Read the full report: Virginia Fiscal Health Report 2018