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NY Comptroller's Office Responds to Criticisms of Transparency

John C. Traylor

Thank you for your recent article on financial transparency which references the State of New York's annual financial statements (“The DATA Act: A Look at the Future for Local Government Financial Reporting?” by Rebecca Bloch, Hussein Issa, and Amanda Peterson, June 2015, p. 36). We acknowledge that the complexity of the accounting standards we are required to adhere to influences the way we report state finances. Despite that complexity, New York State consistently ranks at or near the top among all states for timeliness (within 120 days of fiscal year-end) and quality. (The state has been the recipient of the Government Finance Officers Association's Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting award for 26 consecutive years.)

To aid our citizens in interpreting and understanding our financial statements, we also prepare supplementary reports to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), such as the “Financial Condition Report” and the comptroller's “Citizens' Guide.” These supplementary reports aim to provide taxpayers with selected financial, economic, and demographic information in an easy-to-understand format. Additionally, we are working toward improving our reporting delivery using electronic formats. The monthly and annual comptroller's “Cash Basis” reports are now available in Excel format on our website, offering users the ability to download and analyze this data. In the longer term, we intend to implement software solutions that publish the CAFR and other financial reports in a more “data-friendly” format. All of these changes complement the comptroller's efforts to expand financial transparency through our “Open Book” web-site, which provides detailed information on state and local government finances (http://www.openbooknewyork.com/).

New York State is proud of the time-liness and quality of its financial reporting, and we will continue to implement data transparency solutions that advance the Comptroller's goal of better educating our citizenry about how tax dollars are spent.

John C. Traylor. Executive Deputy Comptroller for Operations, Office of the State Comptroller Albany, N.Y.

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