CAFR Analysis Paper Guidelines

 
CAFR Analysis Paper Guidelines
Please prepare an 8-10 page paper, font 12, double spaced. The length of the paper will increase if you have more illustrations (preferred). This project will detail all information you found or did not find in the budget and the CAFR for the County of San Diego. You should also have a cover/title page and a reference page.
It is important that this be your original thoughts and language/writing. Do not copy large sections from a source. If you do include a sentence or two word for word, be sure to put it in quotes. Provide citations for information such as facts and other information.
The paper should include:
• An introduction to include purpose of paper and intro to the county,
• Graphs or charts in the body of the report to compare topics, data, statistics and anything else that you need to present to support your analysis of the data or to help the reader understand your point. Do not just say it is there; give examples of the way it is presented and the implications.
• Analysis that should be on two levels: First, the quality of the reports in terms of meeting GASB 34 or GFOA award requirements including how “user friendly” it is in your opinion (support your opinion) and second, some analysis of the data such as where the money is spent, how healthy the current revenue stream, the reserves, how well inter-period equity issues are addressed, etc..
• Review of the format, the presentation of the CAFR, which should include mention significant differences between your San Diego County CAFR and the one used as an example in class.
• Conclusion of your overall assessment of San Diego CAFR and Budget. Reiterate the main points of your findings and analysis; what is needed, what was presented very well and anything you think they could improve.
• Reference page: make sure to reference your sources in correct APA style. Please note that Wikipedia is not a valid reference source; you can use it as a source of more authoritative references.
There are rubrics and checklists at the end of this document to help you make sure you’ve included everything to get the maximum grade. You must turn in on date due or lose points for the assignment.

Steps to follow:
We are going to be analyzing the CAFR for the County of San Diego.
Part 1 – Budget analysis
1. In your paper, provide answers to the following questions using visual as well as text. Provide the discussion and analysis as if you were presenting a report to Council:
a. What major concerns are addressed in the budget document?
b. What is the total County budget? Breakout the budget for the enterprise funds versus the general fund.
c. What sources of revenue are received by the County overall?

2. Look at the General fund budget overall. Compare revenues and expenditures budgeted.
a. Determine which Department consumes the most general government resources (support your selection). For that department, answer these questions:
i. What are the department’s goals and purpose? How do those match with what you would think the citizens expect?
ii. Are there revenues specific to the department?
iii. What are the budgeted expenditures? Provide examples from the budget.
iv. If a 15% decrease is to be made for this department you have chosen where would you cut the budget? Explain why and what you think the overall effect of this decrease would be on the department.
v. Anything else you think is significant about this department’s budget?

Part 2 – CAFR analysis
1. Read the Transmittal Letter, MD&A and notes. For additional reference, look for official reports or financial information such as reports to Council about the CAFR.
2. Provide an analysis of the CAFR using text and graphics as if you were presenting your analysis to someone in order to inform them about CAFRs in general and this city in particular.
3. Include in your analysis the answers to the following questions. Be sure to also conform to the guidelines for the paper overall presented in the first section of these instructions and support your opinions with references or examples.
a. Has the County received an award for the CAFR? If so, you don’t need to spend time analyzing conformity with GASB 34 requirements.
b. What detail is available in the notes to the statements that would be useful to a particular type of reader (citizen, potential commercial operation, etc.).
c. What is the financial situation for this government? Support your comments with examples from the CAFR. Is there sufficient information to determine the financial health of the government?
d. Compare the information provided in the CAFR and the budget for this city including a review of the budget vs. actual statements in the CAFR.
e. What do you think was especially helpful or not in the CAFR overall including the MD&A and statistical sections? Support your responses with examples.
See also checklist, grading rubrics, and writing standards below.

Checklist for Students:
Introduction
• Tell the reader what you will cover and why it is interesting; give the reader context (for instance, say something about the city such as its location, weather, what it’s known for, etc..
Body – Organization
• Well organized; flow in a logical sequence from paragraph to paragraph, from sentence to sentence; the reader isn’t surprised by a sentence that doesn’t seem related to the ones before and after. The best way to check this is read it out loud, preferably to someone else (teenagers are the best; they won’t spare your feelings with their feedback).
• Statements supported with appropriate tables, graphs, charts, or references.
• Transitions are easy to follow.
• Coverage of topic is complete.
• Layout is easy to follow.
Conclusion
• Findings consistent with purpose are summarized.
References
• Sufficient to support the conclusion.
• Appropriately cited.
USE of Visuals
• Use visuals, graphs, tables and charts to make points.
• Easy to read and appropriately place.
Professional appearance
• Word choice and sentence structure are clear.
• Spell check and editing appears to have been done
• Logical sequencing of thoughts and analysis of topics;
• Use of examples and visuals

GRADING RUBRICS:
Criterion Unsatisfactory Satisfactory Exceptional
1. Content
Compare and describe budget or CAFR and discuss the sections of these documents. Did not adequately compare and describe the document by choosing at least 1-2 items shown and discussing. Adequately compared and described the document by choosing at least 1-2 items shown and discussing. In addition to meeting the requirements of satisfactory,
*included a discussion of at least 3-4 items in the report and explained them in detail
* analyzed these items and determined whether it gives enough information
Evaluate the way these documents display information and if the information is clear for any person in the public to understand. Did not evaluate adequately the data presented. Evaluated adequately the data presented. In addition to meeting the requirements of satisfactory,
*discussed other ways of displaying the information or suggested items the public would like to see.
*analyze and suggest some other details you believe would help the presentation
Describe how the budget is presented in each document and look at the details for the General fund, the proprietary funds and one department. Did not describe accurately the budget characteristics shown for the 2 funds and one department. Described with some detail the budget characteristics shown for the 2 funds and one department. In addition to meeting the requirements of satisfactory,
*analyzed the data and explained some of the problems with the information.
*analyze the data and explained some of the most effective information displayed.

Evaluate the notes of the CAFR or the details of the budget.
Answer questions provided. Did not evaluate at least 3 of the written notes or details included in the reports. Evaluated at least 3 of the written notes or details included in the reports. In addition to meeting the requirements of satisfactory,
* analyzed 4+ details or notes and suggested ways to improve the accounting.
*recommend 2 things that could be done to improve the public’s understanding of the budget or CAFR
*+++extra credit- compare some items in the city you chose to another city and their presentation.
USE of GASB pronouncements and other rules/guidelines used in text, handouts, etc. Did not reference the budget, CAFR or GASB that should be used in the reports. Adequately referenced the budget, CAFR and GASB for the details above. In addition to meeting the requirements of satisfactory,
*used another site on internet to explain how they could present better.
* reference at least 1-2 GASBs and give more details about them and how they effect the documents.
Resources Used References 0 sources in paper References 1-2 sources in paper References 3+ or more sources in paper
Visuals – Show calculations and comparisons using graphs, charts, and data tables. Not include any. Include 2-3 and explained in detail what it represents. Includes 4+ and explained in detail what it represents.

2. Writing Standards
Quality and Organization of the Writing
The paper is poorly organized with clumsy transitions from point to point, several spelling and grammatical errors, references not correctly indicated, and introductory and summary paragraphs may not be fully developed or engage the reader. The paper is very well organized:
Includes 1)introductory paragraph that explains the purpose and provides context 2)summary/conclusion paragraph that communicates writer’s perspectives and highlights of paper, 3)very few spelling or grammatical errors
4) reference section correctly cited. Includes 1)introductory paragraph that explains the purpose, provides context and engages the reader, 2)summary/conclusion paragraph that communicates writer’s perspectives and highlights of paper, 3)excellent transition from point to point, 4)no spelling or grammatical errors
5) reference section correctly cited and references are exceptionally relevant.

Writing Standards
Content/Development
• All key elements of the assignment are covered in a substantive way.
• The context and purpose of the writing are clear.
• Content is comprehensive, accurate, and/or persuasive.
• Major points are supported by specific details, examples, and/or analysis.
• Research is adequate and timely for the topic.
• Where appropriate, the paper supports major points with theory relevant to development of the ideas, and uses the vocabulary of the theory correctly.
• There is integration of theory and practice whereby the writer is able to link theories to practical experience.
Sections of paper
• Introduction must be included to express the purpose of the paper; including any theories that the students will prove or disprove.
• Summary or conclusion should include a summarization of the main points proved in the paper or analytical conclusions supported within the paper.
• Body must have all references stated and build the theme to 1 or more conclusions of the writer.
• Reference section must include all sources used for the paper presented by APA standards.
• Visuals should be included in the paper to assist the reader to see the financial facts/data. They can then be analyzed and explained in detail to support the point of the writer.

Organization
• The introduction engages the reader by providing an idea of the focus of the paper or the primary thesis of the writer in a way that makes the reader want to read the paper.
• The structure of the paper is clear and easy to follow.
• The paper’s organization focuses on the central theme or perspective identified by the writer in the first paragraph.
• Ideas flow in a logical sequence.
• Paragraph transitions are present and logical, and maintain the flow of thought throughout the paper.
The conclusion is logical and impactful. It summarizes key points and flows from thoughts and analysis presented in the paper. It is impactful in that it shares the perspectives of the writer, answers or re-enforces the introduction, acts as a crescendo to the writer’s story, and makes it worthwhile for the reader to have read through the paper.

Format
• The paper, including citations and the reference page, follow program guidelines for format; double spaced 12 font.
• The paper contains quotes and/or borrowed ideas from the text or other outside readings pertaining to the course material and properly cites them within the paper’s body in APA format.
• The paper is laid out effectively and utilizes references appropriately.
Proper formatting, as well as headings, the use of italics, and so forth, aid in the readability of the paper and are not overdone.

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
• Rules of grammar, usage, and punctuation are followed.
• Spelling is correct.
• Readability/Style
• Sentences are complete, clear, and concise.
• Sentences are well-constructed, with consistently strong, varied structure.
• Sentence transitions are present and maintain the flow of thought.
The style of the writing is engaging and makes the reader want to continue reading to the end.