The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) are committed to following an open, orderly process for setting standards. Their comprehensive due process procedures permit timely, thorough and open study of financial accounting and reporting issues. The procedures also encourage broad public participation in the standard-setting process by creating opportunities for all points of view to be heard at all stages of the process.

The Boards recognize that the quality of their conclusions is enhanced by careful consideration of the comments they receive in due process. Therefore, their due process is often iterative, with their proposals modified either slightly or substantially in response to stakeholder and public feedback.

At all stages, the Boards’ mission statements guide their decisions by establishing two goals:
  1. To establish and improve standards of financial accounting and reporting that provide decision-useful information to investors and other users of financial reports.
  2. To accomplish that through a comprehensive and independent process that encourages broad participation, objectively considers all stakeholder views, and is subject to oversight by the Financial Accounting Foundation’s (FAF’s) Board of Trustees.
How We Create Accounting Standards explores how, like home builders,
the FASB and the GASB engage in many steps to develop a quality, well-constructed standard.

Due Process Procedures

The FASB and GASB use the following due process procedures:
  • First, the Board identifies a financial reporting issue that needs to be addressed, based on requests/recommendations from stakeholders, research by staff, Board members’ concerns, or other means. 
  • The Board votes on whether to add a project to the technical agenda, after consultation with stakeholders and others. The decision is subject to oversight by the FAF's Board of Trustees. 
  • The Board assigns the topic to its technical staff, its in-house group of experts, for research and analysis. 
  • The Board discusses the issue and the technical staff’s work at public meetings. 
  • The Board may publish a Discussion Paper for public comment setting forth the issues or concerns being addressed, along with a range of possible solutions. 
  • The Board may issue an Invitation to Comment, which may contain elements of a Discussion Paper, a Preliminary Views document (discussed next), or both. It normally is issued when the Board has not reached a clear consensus on a complex or controversial issue. 
  • In cases dealing with particularly complex or controversial issues, the Board may publish a Preliminary Views document, intended to set forth one or more preliminary views of the Board. This document also may contain an alternative view that is shared by two or more Board members. 
  • After considering the feedback from the Discussion Paper, Preliminary Views, or Invitation to Comment, the Board issues an Exposure Draft of the proposed change. This is a first version of the actual new or modified rule, and it is meant to solicit input from a broad range of stakeholders.
  • The Board sets a public comment period for the exposure draft. For a comprehensive amendment of a major topic or subtopic within the Accounting Standards Codification, comment periods are typically 60 days or longer. An amendment that changes, interprets, or provides application guidance in a narrower area may have a comment period of 25 days or longer. Narrow amendments that are not expected to cause a major change in accounting practice for a significant number of entities, minor technical corrections of existing requirements, or proposed deferrals of effective dates generally have a comment period of 25 days or less. 
  • The Board posts the comments on its website. 
  • The technical staff may field test the proposed change, applying it to sets of company or government financial statements under a range of scenarios to see how it would affect the financial reporting, and to identify any unanticipated consequences. 
  • When the comment period is over, the Board may hold one or more public roundtables on the Exposure Draft. 
  • The staff analyzes the comment letters, public roundtable discussion, and any other information obtained through due process activities. The Board redeliberates the proposed provisions, carefully considering the stakeholder input received, at one or more public meetings. 
  • Finally, the Board votes on the accounting standard change. For a change approved by the FASB, the Board issues an Accounting Standards Update describing amendments to the FASB Accounting Standards Codification®. For a change approved by the GASB, the Board issues a Statement detailing the new or revised requirements and describing how they should be incorporated into the GASB's Codification of Governmental Accounting and Financial Reporting Standards and Comprehensive Implementation Guide.