The USSGL promotes federal accounting standardization by establishing a single chart of accounts across all federal agencies. At its simplest terms, the U.S. Government Standard General Ledger Chart of Accounts lists the title, natural balance and the account definition. The accounts are grouped into the following classifications:
• 1000 Assets
• 2000 Liabilities
• 3000 Net Position
• 4000 Budgetary
• 5000 Revenue and Other Financing Sources
• 6000 Expenses
• 7000 Gains/Losses/Miscellaneous Items
• 8000 Memorandum
Note: Although the natural balance is listed, some account definitions note exceptions for accounts.
FACTS attributes provide further detail for the accounts. Proprietary and FACTS II accounts have additional attributes associated with them to facilitate more accurate financial reporting at the agency level. Within each of the attributes is a set of allowable domain values. For example, Federal Indicator can have F (Federal) or N (Non-Federal).
To complement the use of the USSGL, Treasury created approved posting transactions using these accounts. The Financial Management Service (FMS) documents the numerous scenarios which occur within an agency and categorize them within the following groups:
• Disbursements and Payments
• Collections and Receivables
• Accruals/Nonbudgetary Transfers Other Than Disbursements and Collections
• Memorandum Entries
• Other Specialized Transaction Entries
Given the recurrent change in reporting requirements, regular updates are required for the USSGL accounts and their attributes, posting transaction scenarios and reporting crosswalks. FMS provides an annual Summary of Changes report to highlight these changes, but it is good practice to regularly review the Issues Resolution Committee (IRC) notes (posted on FMS's site) as well as subscribe to FMS's newsletter.
In addition to the definition and reporting of USSGLs, FMS also provides the closing rules for each account. This is created annually to incorporate changes in the addition/deletion of accounts. It's a very useful document to have when testing during the closing process.
It should be noted that beginning in FY 2013 a new initiative will highly impact the USSGL and reporting crosswalks. The implementation of Governmentwide Treasury Account Symbol Adjusted Trial Balance System (GTAS) will increase the USSGL account size from four to six digits, add numerous domain values and update reporting crosswalks. FMS has created a Gap Analysis, which is posted on their site to detail some of these changes. GTAS is well beyond the scope of this article, but look for more on that within the coming weeks.
For mobile users, free apps have been developed as references for the USSGL and GTAS. myUSSGL is available for iPhone and iPad. myGTAS is available for the iPhone, iPad and Android.