AGA's Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting (CEAR)© Program has been helping federal agencies improve their high-quality Performance and Accountability Reports or Agency Financial Reports since 1997. The program was established in conjunction with the Chief Financial Officers Council and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to improve financial and program accountability by streamlining reporting and improving the effectiveness of such reports. The program was designed to review individual reports and provide recommendations for improving their presentation and usefulness, publicly recognize the agencies and train individuals who prepare and review the reports. For the past 15 years, the reports have been evolving and the CEAR program has also evolved to stay current.
View the CEAR Program Brochure
View the December Reviewers’ Training
Through the program, AGA advises agencies on how to prepare integrated and user-friendly Performance and Accountability Reports or Agency Financial Reports that clearly show what an agency accomplished with taxpayer dollars and the challenges that remain.
Agencies that participate in the program submit their Performance and Accountability Report to a five-member review team for an in-depth evaluation. These five individuals assess the report using the CEAR Reviewer Guidelines and then provide detailed recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the report. Agencies with reports that are considered excellent are awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting. (The Certificate recipients will also receive recommendations for improvement.)
Beginning with the 2009 reports, The CEAR Board established a Special Awards Component to its program. These are awards above and beyond the Certificate that are made to encourage innovation and improvement in the areas important to performance and accountability.
All federal agencies and components of agencies are encouraged to demonstrate their commitment to excellence by participating in the program, whether or not they are statutorily required to produce a Performance and Accountability Report or Agency Financial Report.
Agencies that participate in the program receive:
- A Comprehensive Evaluation and Detailed Recommendations: A panel of five distinguished experts from both inside and outside the financial management profession performs an in-depth review of the report. The review panel provides specific recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the report. It then decides whether the report merits the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting. *
*Agencies must receive an unqualified opinion on their financial statements to be eligible for the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting by date prescribed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
- Valuable Training for Preparers of Performance and Accountability Reports: Each participating agency is permitted to register up to five staff members for AGA's two-hour Report Preparer's Training, where attendees will learn strategies and best practices for performance and accountability reporting.
- Technical Development for Professional Staff: Any federal agency has the opportunity to appoint senior-level staff to act as program reviewers, offering unparalleled exposure to the broad range of current performance and accountability reporting practices. Serving as a reviewer is a practical way to keep abreast of the most recent developments in authoritative standards affecting federal accounting, financial reporting and performance measurement.
The Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting
Agencies that achieve such a distinction receive all program benefits plus the following:
- A Prestigious National Award: During an award ceremony each May, AGA presents the prestigious Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting to the agency's administrator and presents the Award for Excellence in Accountability Reporting to the office that prepared the report. The taxpaying public, Congress, public interest groups and financial management professionals recognize the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting as an outstanding accomplishment for a federal agency and its management. At this time the agencies receiving the Special Awards are also acknowledged.
- Professional Recognition: AGA promotes the exceptional accomplishment to the federal government community through press releases and recognizes the agencies in The Journal of Government Financial Management, Government Financial Management TOPICS, AGA Today and AGA's website.
- Validation of an Agency's Accountability: Congress, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. General Accounting Office recognize the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting as evidence of a complete presentation of an agency's programmatic and financial affairs.
- Enhanced Report Presentations: Receiving the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting represents a significant accomplishment for a federal agency and its management. Such an impressive achievement can be used to strengthen presentations to congressional leaders during budget and oversight hearings and to the media.
Are You Ready to Demonstrate Your Agency's Commitment to Excellence?
Your work producing quality, timely Performance and Accountability Reports or the Agency Financial Report is essential to the overall objective of advancing government accountability. Contact us today to ensure your Performance and Accountability Report is included in the next CEAR Program cycle. Don’t miss out on receiving detailed recommendations for report improvement from a team of peer reviewers. The program is a win-win for the agencies as they receive information with which they can continuously improve their report AND have the opportunity to publicly recognize the individuals within the agency who prepare the report and acknowledge their dedication and hard work.
Get the CEAR Program Application
All Reports, related documents and program fees are due 30 days after the Performance and Accountability Report or Agency Financial Report is due to OMB and Congress. The Summary of Performance and Financial Information is due 15 days after the due date as prescribed by OMB.
The filing fee is due when the application and other documents are submitted. Please see the "Payment" portion of the program application for the current fee.
Contact CEAR staff with questions.