U.S. TIGHTENS FINANCIAL REPORTING RULES

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New administration requires electronic reports

By Junhan B. Todeno

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 1, 2009) –WITH a new administration in Washington, D.C., new regulations are also being implemented for federal grant programs, particularly those provided by the American Recover and Reinvestment Act, or the stimulus law.

"A lot of the rules are the same but some of the rules are really unique under the ARRA and so we want to make sure that everyone here understands the rules," said Charles Hester, who is conducting a grant management workshop for CNMI government employees.

The ARRA requires beneficiaries to submit reports to the federal government, he added.

The reporting requirement has "substantially increased" and now includes an electronic system, he said.

This system has yet to be developed in the federal level although the first reports are already scheduled to be submitted this October, he added.

Hester yesterday started conducting a series of training sessions for CNMI government accountants, auditors and grants and financial managers.

He will also conduct worksite visits at various government agencies.

Yesterday’s session at the multi-purpose center was attended by less than 30 financial managers.

Office of Personnel Management training director Dr. Peter C. Eche said the session was well received by the participants.

A similar training was held before, but most of the participants yesterday were "first timers."

"We need to be more conversant with the changing regulations," Eche said. "We want the accounting and money managers to be well informed on how to report under the new system."

Eche said the training was sponsored by the Pacific Islands Training Initiative of the USDA Graduate School.

Under the new rules, he added, "the forms are online so they want to do away with paper work and there are also new regulations."

Hester said the training is not part of the ARRA requirements, but it will allow the commonwealth to be in compliance with federal grant programs.

He said during an economic crisis, transparency accountability and internal controls should be maintained.

"The thing we want to do is to always stay diligent. Any time you have an economic downturn there’s a pressure to cut corners," he added.

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