Accounting Basis

The information on Open FI$Cal is shown on the modified accrual basis of accounting. Different numbers published by the State of California for different purposes may use different bases of accounting, so the expenditures on this site will generally not match expenditure numbers you may see elsewhere.

The different bases of accounting differ in when they recognize revenues and expenditures. The primary bases used by California include the following:

Basis When expenditures are recognized When revenue is recognized Where it’s used
Modified Accrual When goods and services are received or a liability is incurred When funds are measurable (can be stated in terms of dollars) and available (can be used to pay current liabilities) Most day-to-day accounting by state departments, Open FI$Cal
Cash When cash is spent When cash is received State Controller’s Office tracking of cash balances
Full Accrual When goods and services are received or a liability is incurred When revenue is earned (i.e. owed to the state) Not commonly used in state accounting
Budgetary Legal (this basis is unique to California) When funds are encumbered for future use (for example, when a contract is entered into) When funds are measurable (can be stated in terms of dollars) and available (can be used to pay current liabilities) Annual Budget, Budgetary-Legal Basis Annual Report (BLBAR)
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) GAAP includes multiple bases of accounting for the different views shown in the state’s annual financial report GAAP includes multiple bases of accounting for the different views shown in the state’s annual financial report Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR)