Uniform Chart of Accounts / Accounting Manual for Municipalities
A well-designed chart of accounts is a fundamental of any financial accounting system. In addition to organizing financial activities and transactions, it also offers a consistent classification structure for accounting and financial reporting. The chart of accounts should be viewed as part of a complete financial information system that links the operations of various departments, agencies and offices. The Uniform Chart of Accounts (UCOA) developed by the State of Connecticut for its municipalities and school districts was developed after working extensively with municipal and school district officials for a chart of accounts that met their needs and that could be used uniformly across all municipalities and local boards of education.
State Law requires municipalities and school districts to annually file reports with OPM and SDE, respectively, prepared in accordance with the UCOA. Presently, there is no requirement for municipalities or school districts to replace their current chart of accounts with the UCOA.
In addition to the UCOA, the Office of Policy and Management has developed an Accounting Manual for municipalities to assist municipalities in understanding the UCOA, including reporting in accordance with the UCOA. The accounting manual also includes information that can assist municipalities on implementing the UCOA into their financial accounting systems.
Click below to download the UCOA and/or the UCOA User Manual for Municipalities:
Municipalities and school districts are strongly encouraged to adopt the UCOA when they are undergoing a financial accounting system conversion, or if they determine their current chart of accounts is not accommodating their needs. In addition, municipalities should work with their educational counterpart to convert to the UCOA, where applicable and practicable and especially if each organization is using the same accounting system. The State considers “Conversion” to the UCOA to mean use of the UCOA segments to at a minimum, the Object level within the local accounting system.
Mapping versus Converting
In order to facilitate reporting by municipalities and school districts in accordance with the UCOA without requiring municipalities and school districts to implement the UCOA into their local accounting systems, the State of Connecticut is using a mapping approach. It must be emphasized that Mapping and Converting are not the same.
Mapping: Mapping is simply a mechanism to achieve reporting. Mapping involves creating a crosswalk (or map) between a local chart of accounts, on a segment by segment basis, to the UCOA within a cloud-based electronic platform. An electronic file (i.e., a trial balance file) may then be sent to the cloud-based platform, which is then compared against the map, and the local account balances and amounts are cross-walked to their corresponding UCOA accounts, allowing for uniform reporting. Through mapping, the local accounting system remains unchanged.
The mapping conducted to date was not intended to be and is not a one-for-one mapping from each and every account that exists in the local chart of accounts to its UCOA counterpart.
Converting: Converting means implementing the UCOA into the underlying financial accounting system of the municipality and/or school district. The classification structure of the newly adopted UCOA would be used for accounting and financial reporting. Each municipality and/or school district that implemented the UCOA would be able to compare like costs and sources of revenue without having to map their local chart of accounts to the UCOA.
Conversion is adopting the UCOA in the underlying local accounting system either by:
Changing from one accounting system to another system, and in doing so using the UCOA as the system’s chart of accounts; or
Replacing the chart of accounts currently being used by a municipality or school district in its local accounting system with the UCOA structure.
Rudimentary Accounting Systems
Some municipalities and school districts use unsophisticated, “checkbook” style accounting systems that do not have and cannot accommodate multiple segments. These accounting systems cannot accommodate the UCOA, and their account structure cannot be mapped to the UCOA using the Mapping method. As a result, these municipalities and school districts must use manual data entry forms to complete annual reporting to the State in accordance with the UCOA. These municipalities and school districts may consider options to convert to a new accounting system that will accommodate the UCOA. Options could include moving to an inexpensive cloud-based system, or a group of municipalities and/or school districts may work together to achieve volume pricing for a cloud-based or hosted solution. The state has made grants available to municipalities and school districts for converting to an accounting system that may accommodate the UCOA and using the UCOA as their charts of accounts.