In 1997, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Local Government Uniform Chart of Accounts and Reporting Act (HB491). This Act called for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to develop a uniform chart of accounts to be used by local governments in the state. All of Georgia's county and municipal governments, and organizations controlled by them, are required to comply with the provisions set forth in the uniform chart of accounts. While independent authorities are not required to use the uniform chart of accounts, DCA encourages them to do so to better facilitate the comparability of financial information provided to DCA and other users.
Although there are a number of changes from the Second edition of the Chart of Accounts, the basic structure has not changed. Some accounts have been added and some have been deleted, account descriptions have been refined and funds have been added. These changes were made to better facilitate the management needs of local governments while still providing the necessary degree of comparability of financial information reported by Georgia’s local governments.
Although DCA references the uniform chart of accounts numbering system when requesting information (such as in the annual Report of Local Government Finances), local governments are not required to use it in their accounting systems. As local governments develop new accounting systems, however, they are encouraged to adopt this numbering system. Since DCA will use these account numbers and descriptions to format its requests for financial data and information, using this chart of accounts for accounting purposes will facilitate local governments’ financial reporting.
The list of account titles used in this chart is not comprehensive or exhaustive. Local governments should supplement these classifications as necessary to provide information for policy and management purposes. This chart does not, for instance, include specific detailed revenue and expense classifications for utilities, transportation systems, airports, hospitals, and numerous other activities commonly accounted for in proprietary funds. In these cases, local governments are expected to adhere to the financial reporting and accounting requirements of the appropriate regulatory agencies or professional associations. For example, electric and gas utilities may conform to requirements of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and water and sewer utilities to pronouncements of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). However, the chart does include accounts necessary to allow local governments to use this chart to account for these proprietary-type activities.
While this chart of accounts requires local governments to account for and report on the use of financial resources in a consistent and uniform format, it does not specify how local government operations are organized and managed. How local governments organize and manage their operations is appropriately the responsibility of local policymakers (e.g., expenditure accounts focus on function and activities rather than departments). The purpose of this chart is to provide a uniform format for local government financial reporting and accounting, allowing state agencies to collect more reliable and meaningful financial data and information from local governments in the state. It is also the hope of DCA officials and the State Auditor that the chart will prove to be a useful resource for local government policy makers and managers on matters related to budgeting, accounting, and financial reporting.
The chart will require periodic revisions to incorporate changes in GAAP or state law or to address errors and omissions. To facilitate this process, any revisions to the uniform chart of accounts will be posted to DCA’s website with instructions regarding which page(s) should be replaced with updated pages in the chart. Also, a full explanation of such changes will be provided, with citations to the applicable changes in state law, Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) statements, or other circumstances precipitating the change.