In early 2020, Eide Bailly Senior Manager Janeen Hathcock was honored to be named a fellow in the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Fellow Program. The GASB Practice Fellow Program is an excellent opportunity for experienced public accountants to actively participate in the process of setting financial accounting standards. In this fellow role, Janeen serves as a project manager on a team researching problems and analyzing comments from government report preparers, auditors and financial statement users. She is tasked with making recommendations to GASB stakeholders on technical issues, developing and drafting accounting standards and leading discussions at GASB meetings and the Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council.
As a candidate of the GASB Practice Fellow Program, Janeen was nominated by Eide Bailly and will spend two years working at the GASB headquarters before returning to the firm’s Colorado practice. When Janeen completes the fellowship and returns to Eide Bailly, the knowledge and experience she’s gained will position her as a thought leader and will be invaluable in serving our government industry clients.
Recently, Eric Berman, CPA, CGMA, a Partner in the Eide Bailly Government Industry group, had the opportunity to interview Janeen to inquire how she’s adapting to her new role at GASB. Despite being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s been really enjoying the GASB Practice Fellow Program.
Watch the Q&A interview video with Eric and Janeen now, or read a transcript of the interview below:
Q: What attracted you to become a GASB fellow for two years?
A: The GASB fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I spent the first part of my career as a preparer in my local city’s finance department. I had been with Eide Bailly for six years as a Senior Manager in the Audit Department when the opportunity presented itself to apply for the GASB fellowship sponsored by Eide Bailly. I was immediately interested in applying for the fellowship as this would round out my experience of implementing standards, auditing standards and writing standards. I knew this opportunity would provide me with significant growth opportunities and would also help our governmental clients across the firm upon my return. I also believe that understanding how and why GASB issues standards can provide me an opportunity to advocate for GASB and the importance they have on the governmental environment.
Q: What are the projects you are working on?
A: Currently I am on the team working on the Financial Reporting Model which has issued the exposure draft and is currently in the comment period. I have been given a terrific opportunity to lead the project on Risks and Uncertainties Disclosures, and we are currently in board deliberations for that project. I am also on the team working on Prior Period adjustments where we are also in board deliberations. Finally, I am on the Going Concern Disclosure project where we are currently performing our pre-agenda research. Overall, I feel as though I am getting a variety of experience with projects in different phases.
Q: The GASB’s Financial Reporting Model Improvements project is one of your projects. For state and local governments, what are the most important proposed changes that they should focus on to provide feedback to the GASB?
A: The most important proposed change to this project, in my opinion, is the change to the short-term financial resources measurement focus, accrual basis of accounting. The exposure draft provides state and local governments examples of applying this measurement focus and basis of accounting. It also provides a comprehensive illustration of the financial statements and management’s discussion and analysis. If our stakeholders are interested in providing feedback on the Financial Reporting Model, please familiarize yourself with that part of the exposure draft.
Q: What is it like to work on developing new GAAP?
A: If I had to choose one word on what it is like to work on developing new GAAP, it’s “humbling.” Getting outside of my bubble in Colorado has allowed me to see governmental financial reporting through a different lens. There are many more unique situations that governments encounter than I was aware of. This requires an extensive amount of work when developing standards at the GASB. I didn’t realize the extent of GASB’s due process from getting a project on the agenda to issuing a final statement. From start to finish, some of these projects take years to develop. This extensive process allows for a significant amount of research (including outreach to prepares, auditors, and users), board discussion, and requests for feedback from the stakeholder community.
Q: What skills/strengths are you developing as a GASB fellow that you will bring back to Eide Bailly when you return to public accounting?
The strengths that I am developing as a GASB fellow include strong research and presentation skills. Both skills will be a significant asset to bring back to Eide Bailly. Strong research skills are imperative to our profession which is constantly changing. The ability to develop the board papers, present to the board, and lead board discussions not only strengthens my presentation skills, but it also strengthens my ability to think critically.
Q: How has COVID affected your fellowship and the program in general?
A: I was able to begin the first two months of my fellowship in the Norwalk office. I was fortunate to have that time to connect with the staff and board members in person, which I will forever be grateful. Unfortunately, March came around and we all were sent home. Our project teams have done a really good job utilizing the technology available to us. Most of our meetings are through Microsoft Teams or Zoom, which is nice to see everyone’s face. I do not believe that the effect on the fellowship program has suffered much. I have still been given the same opportunities that I expected to get, and I have the support from all staff including the board, the director, project managers, and post-graduate technical assistants. We also participate in virtual celebrations and lunch hours to try to keep things as normal as possible.
“We’re so proud and honored to be able to support Janeen’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the GASB Practice Fellow Program.”
-Eric Berman, CPA, CGMA
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