Monday, January 30, 2006

FARS information--also known as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) assignment

As I have been asked to give a demonstration today on locating the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) information, I thought I would also post a summary of the information. I have updated the handout about FARS and I have put some copies in the reference desk drawer.

Many accounting students have a "FARS" assignment which means they will need to search the FASB information. The FASB information makes up the generally accepted accounting principles: "GAAP." "FARS" stands for Financial Accounting Research System, which is the way that the FASB and Wiley publishing has packaged the information for students.

Means of access for this information include:

I. FARS Online: Some students will have access to the FARS online through a password given in their textbook, which is the most recent edition of the Kieso Intermediate Accounting text.
This comes with a 22 page How to Search FARS Online. Students should review this.

A tutorial that I developed on searching FARS Online is available through Blackboard. Students should click on Community and select Accounting Information. The tutorial is listed under Course Documents. There is a printout of this tutorial, which I developed, and the 22 page explanation from Wiley, in the file drawer at the reference desk.

II. FARS disc Other students will depend upon the 2005 FARS disc. There are two at the Reference Desk and one on Reserve. These discs can only be used at the Reference Desk. Please take the student I.D. card. The computers on the sides of the Reference Desk have been programmed to access this CD. This disc is current as of June 1, 2005. See the handout for some quick search tips. Phrases must be searched within quotation marks. Shaded information means it is not current. (Students should look for current information.) A Powerpoint presentation prepared last year has been printed and is available in the reference desk drawer.

Other online means of access:

III. FASB's free web site: This has the most current information. However, the FASB statements can not be searched except by going to the individual statement. Changes to statements have not been incorporated into the text so that is a disadvantage here. This site also lacks the "Current Text", which is not officially "GAAP." The current text compiles the information from the FASB statements and other documents into subjects. There are General Standards, which apply to all business entities, and Industry Standards, which have been developed for specific, but not industries." This site is free but not that easy to search. It is updated most frequently.

Perhaps the most easy to use:
IV. RIA Checkpoint offers the FASB documents. This database can be used off campus. You need to change the Search Practice Area to WG&L Rptg & Management. (See handout for details on drilling down to the FASB documents and how to search.)
Advantages of this database include: Internal Hyperlinks referring to FASB documents reduce the number of searches one will need to conduct.
Keyword searches may be done.
If a student knows the document that needs to be search, that can also be done by searching FIND BY CITATION.
This database also contains AICPA Publications which can be searched. RIA Checkpoint offers the same information from FASB as the FARS disc and has the advantages of hyperlinks and being more current.
Results may also be printed, downloaded or e-mailed.

The second most easy to use:
V. CCH Business & Finance: Advantages: available off campus. Is more current than the FARS disc.
Results may be printed, emailed or saved.
Lacks the hyperlinks that RIA offers.
After logging on (use Baruch e-mail), select Securities tab, and scroll down to SEC Accountants' Module and click on Financial Accounting Standards (FASB).
The Original Pronouncements are where the FASB Statements are to be found. Find by Citation can be used to locate a specific statement.

A GAAP Guide may also be searched in the CCH Business & Finance. This can provide helpful background information, such as identifying statements that apply to leases, etc.

Both RIA and CCH offer thesauri and means to do "near" searches and other more complex search strategies. (This isn't so easily done on the FARS disc.)
Grey shaded information indicates it is not current information in each database.

Mainly for graduate students:
The offers Information for Accountants that leads to SEC Accounting Staff Bulletins (see handout for example.) The SEC Accounting Staff Bulletins are also available in the SEC Accountant's Module on CCH Business & Finance.

Other helpful sources:

In case of power or Internet failure: the FASB publications are all available in print. They are either at the reference desk or in Reference.

CCH Accounting Research Manager. Although this database indicates that the FASB material is available, our academic access does not permit it. (FASB imposed limitation.)
The Interpretation materials offered may be helpful. Interpretative materials have a beige background.

The 2005 Miller GAAP Guide is available in print. Check CUNY+ for the call number in Reference for this handout. (The version on Lexis-Nexis Academic is not being updated and is not current. Avoid this version.) This GAAP Guide offers summaries that might be helpful for students.

Some professors want their students to search only the FARS disc; others do not care which version of the information is searched. I have not received the assignments for this semester yet. Some short workshops will be scheduled later in the semester, when they have the assignment.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Although I try to be helpful, I appreciate it if the students have at least looked at the tutorials and tried to search on their own prior to asking for help from me. If students don't understand the assignment, they should ask their professor for additional help.

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