U.S. Government’s Financial Report

cover of 2017 Financial ReportDid you know that there’s a single document that contains nearly all of the federal government’s yearly financial information? It’s called the 2017 Financial Report of the United States Government and the Department of the Treasury published it today.

Treasury, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget, annually consolidates individual agency financial statements to provide a comprehensive overview of the federal government’s finances. Every year, GAO audits the consolidated financial statements of the federal government and our report is included in the 2017 Financial Report of the United States Government.

Cover of GAO-18-239SPMaking sense of the Financial Report

The annual Financial Report includes federal assets, debts, and major spending costs—e.g., for things like defense programs and Medicare—so it is fairly complicated, and can be difficult to understand.

Our new guide can help you decipher this report—check it out here, and in the video below, then read on for more on this year’s financial report.

Impediments to an audit opinion

We were unable to render an audit opinion—i.e., a conclusion on whether the financial statements are reliable—on the government’s fiscal year 2017 consolidated financial statements. Shortcomings that have plagued the financial statements in past years include:

  • Persistent problems with the Department of Defense’s financial management and auditability;
  • The federal government’s inability to account for and reconcile certain transactions between federal entities; and
  • An ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

This year, with few exceptions, all of the 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies received clean opinions on their agency financial statements. However, about 38% of the federal government’s reported total assets as of September 30, 2017, and approximately 20% of the federal government’s reported net cost for FY 2017, involved federal entities that were unable to issue audited financial statements, unable to receive audit opinions on the complete set of financial statements, or unable to receive an opinion on their FY 2017 financial statements.

Notably, DOD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Agriculture have continuing impediments to receiving a clean opinion on their financial statements.


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