The GFOA established the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR Program) in 1945 to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. The goal of the program is not to assess the financial health of participating governments, but rather to ensure that users of their financial statements have the information they need to do so themselves.
Submitting an Application
How to Submit Using GFOA's New Awards Management System
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GFOA’s efforts to deal with COVID-19 and to ensure a successful implementation of the AMS have temporarily lengthened the turnaround time for CAFR award decisions. Our current turnaround time is approximately nine months, but we are working hard to reduce that time frame back to the normal time of six months after submission. Thank you for your patience as we resolve this temporary backlog.
Need Help Using GFOA’s New Awards Management System?
CAFR Award Application Process - Instructional Video
GFOA staff has prepared a training video that walks through the steps to using the new Awards Management System.
Awards Management System - End User Documentation
Download instructions for registering with the awards management system, submitting a CAFR award application, and navigating the information in the system.
CAFR Award Submission FAQ
View FAQ with answers on how to use GFOA's new awards management system
We recognize that COVID-19 is disrupting normal government operations and may affect members’ ability to submit timely applications for GFOA’s award programs. We will approve extensions of the submission deadlines for those that need more time. For extensions for the CAFR Program, please follow the instructions for submitting a CAFR Extension Request in GFOA’s Awards Management System.
Request an Extension
How to Submit an Extension Request
Reports submitted to the CAFR program are reviewed by selected members of the GFOA professional staff and the GFOA Special Review Committee (SRC), which comprises individuals with expertise in public sector financial reporting and includes financial statement preparers, independent auditors, academics, and other finance professionals.
Award Criteria - Checklists
General Purpose Government
Stand-Alone Business Type Activities
Postemployment Benefit Systems and Investment Pools
Note: For school districts and stand-alone business type activities, GFOA is working on an update, please also refer to general-purpose government checklist.
Each CAFR is reviewed using a checklist designed to determine compliance with both generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and program policy as established by the GFOA's Special Review Executive Committee and the GFOA Executive Board. Reviews are performed by GFOA staff and members of the GFOA's Special Review Committee, which comprises individuals from government, the public accounting profession, and academe who possess specialized expertise in governmental financial reporting, typically as a result of either preparing or auditing a CAFR that has received the Certificate of Achievement. Reviewers are never selected from the same state as the CAFR being reviewed or from the same firm that performed the independent audit.
A Certificate is awarded only if there is consensus among reviewers that a CAFR substantially complies with both GAAP and program policy. Failure to comply with any checklist item marked by an asterisk (*) is considered, of itself, sufficient evidence to justify a determination that a CAFR has failed to substantially comply with both GAAP and program policy.
In certain limited circumstances (e.g., adoption of a new authoritative standard), a CAFR may receive the award with a "qualification" (disclosed only to the participating government). Such a qualified award puts the government on notice that failure to remedy one or more specified deficiencies in the following year's CAFR would likely result in a denial.