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Computerized General Ledger and Budgetary Accounting Systems

NCJ Number
GOVERNMENTAL FINANCE Volume: 5 Dated: (May 1976) Pages: 27-32
W K Joines
Date Published
6 pages
Smaller cities in Tennessee have improved their accounting operations at a reasonable cost by using community computer resources to convert manual systems into computer generated reports.
In 1972, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) initiated a program of computer assistance for local governments, which helped schools successfully computerize payrolls and records using the computer facilities of a community college. In 1974, a program to extend this concept to local bookkeeping problems was initiated by the TVA and the Municipal Technical Advisory Service. Under this program, a standardized chart of accounts useable by any city in Tennessee was developed which included the account titles and the basic format recommended by the Municipal Finance Officers Association expanded to handle utility accounting. The coding structure, an 18-digit scheme of accounting fields segregated by hyphens into 6 areas, is described and illustrated, as are the input forms. In early 1975, TVA developed and tested the software package and by 1976 the system was being used in 15 cities with populations from 550 to 14,500. The Columbia State Community College handles the material as a batch process operation and charges a fee which only covers their additional costs. The program has resulted in a significant decrease in the finance department's workload, although a qualified person is still needed to analyze reports and correct any mistakes in coding. The system generates 11 monthly accounting reports and a detailed general ledger analysis at the end of the fiscal year or upon request. These reports provide a complete picture of the municipality's financial condition and are designed for ease of audit and traceability. Plans for expansion to other cities involve the use of community colleges rather than private computer services. The program could be implemented anywhere in the country if the following conditions exist: an areawide organization such as TVA, an organization that can provide technical assistance, and a reliable commitment from the computer center.