From the federal government — the same folks who brought you the Sarbanes-Oxley Act — comes a financial report so extraordinarily foul that one of the nation’s top CPAs says it’s evidence that the country is on “an imprudent and unsustainable long-term fiscal path that is getting worse with the passage of time.”
That’s a direct quote from former U.S. comptroller general David Walker, in reference to the 2007 Financial Report of the United States Government. That report is the topic of a eye-popping CFO article titled “Thriller.”
There are a lot of stunning numbers. Among them are a budget deficit of $163 billion (which more than doubles to $344 billion when you subtract the Social Security surplus) and a publicly held federal debt of $5.1 trillion. Perhaps the most telling number, though, is 11. That’s the number of consecutive years in which the Government Accountability Office has not been able to express an opinion on the government’s books, “primarily because of material weaknesses in financial reporting,” reports CFO’s Edward Teach.
Think you have the stomach to crunch the numbers yourself? Download the financial report — all 186 pages of it — on the GAO’s Web site. For a Reader’s Digest version, try this 12-page “Summary Report of the 2007 Financial Report of the United States Government,” courtesy of the Treasury Department.
And now, the $64,000 question: Does any of this surprise you?