Soup Kitchen Accounting. Really?

Have you ever written a grant application to the NEA or any other federal agency? Have you ever tried to get a contract from the government? they have notebooks and notebooks of forms and documentation and plans and proposals and god only knows what that you’ve gotta fill out. And if you work in the non-profit world you know about the public 990’s and the annual audits and the reports to funders, etc. etc.

Here’s from an Op-Ed in the times called Soup Kitchen Accounting:

The beneficiaries of taxpayer financing should have to keep track of their money in the same way nonprofits must.

Nonprofit accounting is designed to ensure that the recipients of grants from the federal government and other benefactors are held accountable for the funds they receive. Regrettably, the big banks that have been granted billions from the Troubled Asset Relief Program are less transparent in their financial reporting than the local soup kitchen that gets federal support.

Nonprofits use what is known as “fund accounting.” Fund accounting requires that a separate set of books be maintained for all grants that are designated for a specific activity. The aim is to ensure that the resources are spent for their intended purpose.

Executives of banks that have received TARP cash have said that it is too hard to account separately for how they spend their federal dollars. Money is fungible, they argue, and therefore they cannot readily distinguish between outlays of their own resources and those provided by the government. But that’s the type of doublespeak that would get the head of a town’s homeless shelter thrown in jail. If bankers are unable to segregate cash by source and specifically account for expenditures, why are they in charge of banks in the first place?

Dude. Really? Oh My God! Are You Serious?! Really?

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