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corporate governance systems

Useful Applications of Education Information As measured in total funding or in number of people employed, education is the largest policy arena for state and local governments, with growing interest at the federal level. Therefore, the potential value of data on education is enormous. The demand of policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels for high-quality data and outcome measures with which to evaluate fiscal and programmatic policy changes drives the need for data systems to become increasingly comprehensive. For example, the financial reports of state and local education agencies are used to compare actual financial results with legally adopted budgets; to assess financial conditions and results of operations; to assist in determining compliance with finance-related laws, rules, and regulations; to assist in evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of processes; and in planning. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) defines financial reporting as the means of communicating financial information to users (GASB Concepts Statement 1, Paragraph 62). 2 NCES is the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data related to education in the United States and other nations. NCES is a branch of the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education and is authorized to collect data by Congress through the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-279), 20 U.S.C. 9543. 3 Additional information on these surveys, including instructions for completing them, can be found on the websites listed in appendix B. 9 For this communication to be effective, financial information must have the following basic characteristics: • Understandability. Information should be clear, but not oversimplified. Explanations and interpretations should be included where necessary. • Reliability. Information should be verifiable and free from bias. It should be comprehensive; thus, nothing should be omitted that is necessary to accurately represent events and conditions. However, nothing should be included that might cause the information to be misleading. • Relevance. There must be a close, logical relationship between the information provided and the purpose for which it is needed. • Timeliness. Information should be available soon enough after the reported events to affect decisionmaking. • Consistency. Once a principle or a method is adopted, it should be used for all similar events and conditions. If a change is made, the nature of and reason for the change, as well as its effects, should be explained. • Comparability. Procedures and practices should remain the same across time and reports. If differences occur, they should be due to substantive differences in the events and conditions reported rather than because of arbitrary implementation