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NYS Comptroller


Publications: Accounting and Financial Information

Accounting and Reporting Manual for Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages:

The Accounting and Reporting Manual (ARM) has recently been updated to reflect recent accounting releases and account code additions, changes in legislation relating to the financial reporting requirement dates for submitting Annual Reports to OSC, reformatted easy to read journal entries, and the addition of chapters relating to accounting and reporting requirements for Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Municipal Libraries. (2011 Issue: Updated Codes for Water and Soil Conservation Districts). Complete Accounting and Reporting Manual for Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages [pdf - 2011]

For most recent Chart of Accounts see Chart of Accounts Query

Accounting and Reporting Manual for Fire Districts:

The Accounting and Reporting Manual for Fire Districts is a comprehensive guide for fire districts and others interested in accounting and financial reporting by fire districts in New York State. The manual provides an overview of accounting and financial reporting principles to be used by fire districts to account and report their financial activities. Complete Accounting and Reporting Manual for Fire Districts [pdf - 2018]

Accounting and Reporting Manual for School Districts:

The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has compiled the manual as a comprehensive accounting/reporting guide for school district officials and others interested in accounting and financial reporting by school districts in New York State. It provides an overview of generally accepted governmental accounting and financial reporting principles, and OSC’s interpretations of such principles, where pronouncements are silent or do not address problems common among school districts within New York State. Complete Accounting and Reporting Manual for School Districts [pdf - 2019]

Citizens’ Guide to Local Budgets:

With the resources in the guide, interested citizens should be able to understand what is contained in their local government’s budget. This in turn will allow citizens to understand the challenges facing their local government, what it is doing to manage them, and – perhaps most importantly – what it is doing with their tax dollars. The guide is intended to enable concerned citizens to evaluate how well the budget has been formulated. Complete Citizens’ Guide to Local Budgets [pdf - 2010]

Getting the Most Out of Your Internal Audit Function:

The brochure outlines additional opportunities, for Schools and BOCES, beyond the traditional financial transaction cycles (and requirements of the Five Point Plan) that could be gained from utilizing the internal audit function to its fullest extent. Getting the Most Out of Your Internal Audit Function Brochure [pdf - 2009]

Handbook for Town and Village Justices and Court Clerks:

The handbook for Town and Village Justices and Court Clerks is to assist in fulfilling the financial reporting requirements of the Town and Village courts. This publication may be requested in hardcopy from the Justice Court Fund by calling 518-473-6438 or 518-473-6830 or downloading the complete handbook for Town and Village Justices and Court Clerks [pdf - updated 2019].

Information for Town Officials:

A review of the basic duties of a town supervisor with statutory references designed to assist the newly elected supervisor in becoming familiar with the structure of town government and the supervisor's role in it. This is also a publication useful to town board members and other town officials. Complete Information for Town Officials Manual [pdf - Reissued 2018]

Local Government Management Guide (LGMG):

This publication series includes technical information and suggested practices for various local government management topics.

Capital Assets [pdf - 2016] - Capital assets are tangible or intangible assets used in operations that have useful lives of more than one year, such as land and improvements to land, buildings and building improvements, vehicles, machinery, equipment, and sewer, water and highway infrastructures.

Capital Projects Fund [pdf - 2019] - Local governments undertake capital projects to acquire, develop, improve or maintain various facilities, other infrastructure and/or equipment. These projects are generally large in scale, require large sums of money and are long-term. A capital projects fund is used to account for the financial resources supporting capital projects during the life of the project. This guide is intended to provide local officials with an overview of the use of capital projects funds and guidance on the fundamentals of accounting for capital projects. Accounting and reporting for capital projects can be a complex matter. As a result, we have developed several comprehensive examples and corresponding journal entries: Sample Capital Project #1 - Construction of a new office building (City) [pdf]; Sample Capital Project #2 - Purchase of a new highway truck (Town) [pdf]; Sample Capital Project #3 - Purchase of a new highway truck (Village) [pdf].

Cash Management Technology [pdf - 2010] - Learn about electronic cash management technologies and the internal controls needed to help detect fraud and ensure that all transactions are captured. Relevant topics include the use of online banking, electronic transfers of funds, accepting credit/debit cards, remote deposit capture, lockboxes and common protection practices to safeguard cash.

Financial Condition Analysis [pdf - 2008] - Learn about analyzing the financial condition of your local government or school district. Topics include defining financial condition, assessing financial condition, using analytic tools, and improving financial condition through corrective action.

Fiscal Oversight Responsibilities of the Governing Board [pdf - 2014] - This guide will help board members and other managers understand and administer key fiscal oversight responsibilities. Topics include reviewing fiscal objectives and associated risks that should encompass all operational areas; establishing policies to help achieve fiscal objectives and address significant risks; and monitoring adherence to established policies to ensure that all objectives are being met and that all identified risks are routinely controlled.

Improving the Effectiveness of Your Claims Auditing Process [pdf - 2013] - Primarily for officials who are new to the task of auditing claims, this guide provides basic information about the steps required in an effective auditing process.

Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity [pdf - updated 2019] - Years ago, Industrial Control Systems (ICS) were considered low-risk because they were isolated from networks and the Internet but interconnectivity with the outside world is now a reality. There are many steps municipalities can take to improve their ICS cybersecurity and better protect the health and safety of their residents.

Information Technology Contingency Planning [pdf - updated 2019] - The impact of an unplanned IT disruption involving the corruption or loss of data or other computer resources could significantly curtail an organization’s operations. Proactively anticipating and planning for IT disruptions prepares personnel for the actions they must take if this happens.

Information Technology Governance [pdf - updated 2019] - This guide can make the oversight of information technology less daunting by providing a template for understanding and strengthening controls over IT.

Internal Controls:

The Practice of Internal Controls [pdf - 2010] - This guide provides practical information about internal controls for local government financial operations.

Management's Responsibility for Internal Controls [pdf - 2010] - Simply put, internal controls are activities or procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance that operations are "going according to plan." This guide introduces local government and school district officials to the components of an integrated internal control framework.

Investing and Protecting Public Funds [pdf - updated 2014] - This guide includes sections about the fundamentals of investing and protecting local government funds in New York State.

Multiyear Capital Planning [pdf - 2009] - This guide will address the process for developing an effective capital plan. Additional information on capital planning can be obtained in the following Local Government Management Guides: "Financial Condition Analysis [pdf]," "Understanding the Budget Process [pdf]," "Capital Assets [pdf]," "Reserves [pdf]," and "Strategic Planning [pdf]."

Multiyear Financial Planning [pdf - updated 2017]: Multiyear financial planning can be a useful tool for any local government. This guide is intended to walk readers through the essentials of financial planning. In order to help local officials get started, the Comptroller's Office has also developed multiyear financial planning resources including an on-line tutorial which includes updates to the Multiyear Financial Planning Guide, a self-assessment quiz and spreadsheet based planning templates for municipalities and schools.

Personal Service Cost Containment [pdf - 2008] - Personal service costs can dominate a local government’s budget. This guide is developed to assist local governments and school districts contain these costs. Officials who choose to use these strategies will need to tailor them to fit their specific requirements and needs.

Ransomware [pdf - updated 2019] - Ransomware is malware that prevents access to a user’s computer or electronic data until a payment is made. Criminals have used ransomware to target home computers, financial institutions, government agencies, academic institutions and other organizations. This guide describes a typical ransomware attack, highlights a strategy for those who encounter ransomware and outlines best practices for local governments wishing to apply preventative measures.

Reserve Funds [pdf - 2010] - In general, reserve funds have specific intended purposes and requirements as set forth in law. This guide contains a summary of the many different types of reserve funds authorized by New York State statutes. Because legal requirements regarding reserve funds can be complex, local officials are encouraged to consult with their municipal attorney and to exercise professional judgment in determining how best to include reserve funds in the overall financial management policies of their government or school district.

Seeking Competition in Procurement [pdf - 2014] This guide is designed as a layperson's guide to procurement practices in local government. We always encourage officials to seek the advice of an attorney on legal issues pertaining to bidding and other contractual arrangements for the acquisition of goods and services.

Shared Services in Local Governments [pdf - 2009] - Shared services can help municipalities increase effectiveness and efficiency in their operation. As municipal responsibilities become increasingly complex and demanding, municipalities should explore shared services and other cooperative opportunities as a way to reduce or avoid costs, improve service delivery or maintain services.

Strategic Planning [pdf - 2009] - Written for both elected and appointed local officials who are interested in strategic planning, this guide assumes no prior knowledge of strategic planning and takes a very basic approach to the steps involved in creating and implementing such a strategic plan. The module offers a "how-to" guide that takes officials from inception to implementation.

Travel and Conference Expense Management [pdf - 2012] - What are the key elements local officials should consider when developing or updating your travel and conference policy? This guide addresses this question and includes practical discussions on many other travel policy questions, including establishing lodging, meal, and mileage rates; standardized travel forms; and using credit cards and cash advances to pay for travel, among others. Information pertinent to volunteer firefighters and online training is also included.

Trouble Ahead: Managing Your Budget in Times of Fiscal Stress [pdf - 2009] - Municipal finance officers must actively monitor their budgets against actual revenue collections and expenditure outlays to minimize the risk of a year-end deficit. By following a simple, step-by-step process, local governments can determine what budget assumptions may need revisiting, what expenditures may need to be reduced to maintain budget balance, and where they stand financially throughout the fiscal year.

Understanding the Budget Process [pdf - 2008] - This guide provides the groundwork for the development, preparation, and monitoring of the annual budget and is designed for use by chief executive officers, budget officers, business officials, finance officers, department heads, board members and the public.

Wireless Technology and Security [pdf - updated 2019] - There are steps that local governments and school districts can take to help mitigate the risks of using wireless technology. Although wireless environments and their related security systems can be quite complex, local governments can implement controls with relative ease and without incurring additional cost.

Technical Assistance Bulletins:

The Division is issuing bulletins designed to provide guidance related to recurring issues found in our audits of local governments. Technical Assistance Bulletins include recommendations for improving local government operations and preventing the operational and internal control problems identified in our audits.