For the fourth consecutive year, the Pickerington Local School District treasurer's office has received two awards for financial accounting and reporting.

In July, the treasurer's office received Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), as well as the association's Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting (PAFR) was given after a panel of independent GFOA reviewers analyzed the district's popular annual financing report for fiscal year July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017.

The evaluation included review of financial information provided by the district, understandability of the report and its distribution for public review.

The Certificate for Excellence in Financial reporting related to the district's fiscal year 2017 comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), which recognized the PLSD for achieving the highest standards in financial accounting and reporting, including transparency of spending and bookkeeping.

"I attribute all of the awards to an incredibly hard-working treasurer's office team and administrative staff, who strives to maintain the highest levels of accuracy and accountability in financial management and reporting," said treasurer Ryan Jenkins.

"I think this says that we strive to maintain the highest standards of financial accountability for our residents and businesses so that we are sure that our resources are appropriately spent on our children."

The GFOA said the district has gone beyond minimum requirements of accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports to provide "transparency and full disclosure" of revenues and expenditures.

The awards recognized the district for extracting information from its comprehensive reports to produce a high quality popular annual report, which are designed to be readily accessible and easily understandable to the general public and others without a background in public finance.

Although it's the fourth year in a row the district has been recognized for work on its PAFR, it's the 10th consecutive year in which the PLSD has received the GFOA award for its CAFR.

Jenkins said his office "constantly" reviews and refines internal controls and financial safeguards to ensure "the highest levels of accuracy and accountability."

"We also strive to implement sound procedures that enhance our ability to meet our goals," he said.

"One such example is a system we use called SCView.

"This is a document workflow program that has greatly enhanced our system of checks and balances for our requisition-purchase order process, and it will allow us to better align our expenditures with strategic goals moving forward."

Jenkins said new programs and strategies are being planned this year to further improve financial management and accounting, as well as ways to further enhance financial transparency of the district.

"We are also seeking this year to improve our budgeting process by tying planned budgets directly to strategic goals and initiatives, and better communicating that budgeting process and sharing the final budget document with district constituents," he said.

"Our ultimate goal is for the budgeting process to be enhanced, but we will also be submitting our final budget document to either GFOA or ASBO (Association of School Business Officials) -- each entity has a budget award program similar to the CAFR/PAFR award program that PLSD participates in.

"We have received the award of distinction from the Ohio Auditor of State, and each year we typically receive the CAFR/PAFR award of excellence in financial reporting from GFOA.

"But these awards are for the 'retrospective reporting' of financial information performance. That is for reporting the financial information and trends from a previously completed fiscal year."

Jenkins said the treasurer's office is interested in garnering the same level of excellence during the budgeting and planning process that takes place before a particular fiscal year.

"That is what we are seeking with this year's, and future years' budgeting processes," he said.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate