Going Concern Disclosure for Local Governments

Nancy Chun Feng, Daniel G. Neely

Abstract


Going concern opinions (GCOs) indicate that auditors have significant doubt about an entity’s ability to continue operation one year after the financial statement date. This study addresses the following research questions: What are the factors that motivate auditors to issue GCOs to governmental entities? Does a governmental entity disclose going concern uncertainty in the footnotes or the MD&A section of annual financial reports (AFRs) either the year before or the year when the entity receives a GCO? To what extent does the entity disclose the GCO factors used by auditors? We find that auditors most often cited two reasons, “Deficiency in Funds” and “Losses or Revenue Declines,” accounting for the majority of reasons given for a going concern opinion. Further, the disclosure is most likely to be in the notes to the AFRs. In addition, we find that going concern reporting varies by auditor type (state auditors vs. public accounting firms), government size, and government type. We also find some evidence that going concern disclosures improve after the enactment of GASB No. 56. The results of our study should be of interest to stakeholders’ interested in lead indicators of fiscal distress.

Keywords


Governmental Accounting; Going Concern Opinions; Going Concern Disclosure

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.20899/jpna.3.2.176-196

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