AGA CEAR Awards Celebrate Excellence in Accountability Reporting

At a ceremony on May 25, twenty federal agencies and departments received AGA’s Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting (CEAR) awards for producing high-quality Performance and Accountability Reports (PARs) or Agency Financial Reports (AFRs). CEAR awards are given to organizations that effectively illustrate and assess program performance with both accomplishments and challenges, and the cost of that performance, in clearly communicated formats. The CFO Council congratulates the award winners on a job well done.

This is the 19th year AGA has given its CEAR award to deserving federal organizations. All but one of this year’s recipients have previously earned the award. Recipients are listed below, including the number of times they have earned this award:

AGA also awarded 12 special awards to agencies that went above and beyond the requirements of the AFR or PAR, demonstrating further commitment to the ideals of good communication in accountability reporting. The recipients listed and pictured below were presented with special awards at AGA’s CEAR dinner following presentation of CEAR awards.

  • Best Use of the Internet to Facilitate Obtaining Additional Information: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
    • Provides an interactive bookmark menu on the Performance and Accountability Report homepage with which readers can readily access a specific page in the entire document rather than scrolling through a document
    • Provides access from the Glossary of Acronyms and Information List to a website that presents additional information about each acronym and term
    • Provides an Index of URLs to enable persons reading the report in hard copy to access hyperlinks contained in the report



  • Best Inclusion of Interactive Data Visualizations: U.S. Department of the Interior
    • Report uses hyperlinks from the annual report to web-based data visualization tables that provide extensive information about each bureau’s mission and selected activities
    • Readers can interact with the data by filtering, viewing detailed pop-ups, drilling down, or following links for more information
    • Data visualizations enable information to be quickly and effectively understood



  • Best Description of What the Agency Does: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    • Concise and informative Vision and Mission statements, providing information of why the agency was created and where the agency is going.
    • Clear discussion of agency priority goals with a list of 25 key achievements, enabling readers to fully understand what the agency does.
    • Absence of jargon enables information to be presented in a manner that is easy for average citizen to understand and identify with.



  • Best Presentation of Performance in an Agency Financial Report: U.S. Agency for International Development
    • A table presents strategic goals, related strategic objectives, and supporting programs and for each strategic goal, a pie chart depicts targets met and not met.
    • Includes a table presenting four years of results and current and next year’s targets for each of performance indicator
    • For one performance indicator for each strategic goal, a presentation of the public benefit, a linking of the activities to the outcomes, and table depicting results and targets for five years.



  • Best Presentation of Performance in a Performance and Accountability Report: Peace Corps
    • Strategic objectives are tied to strategic goals.
    • For each strategic objective, this group presented an overview, key strategies and activities, performance targets and results for several years, and analysis of the results, supporting graphics, and data sources.
    • Measures and measurement process have improved considerably over the years, as evidenced by how interpretations of and conclusions drawn from the performance data are used to help improve overall performance.



  • Best Analysis of Financial Statements: National Credit Union Administration
    • Explains purposes of the four funds the agency uses to report financial position and results.
    • Clearly and succinctly Identifies and explains major assets and liabilities for the different funds.
    • Provides rationale for significant changes in amounts from prior years.



  • Best Graphic Display of Complex Financing: Federal Aviation Administration
    • Devised a graphic to depict the complex flow of funds from the financing sources, through the appropriations, agency lines of business, and strategic priorities.
    • Identifies significant amounts and purposes and explains reasons for major changes from prior year amounts.
    • Provides colorful bar and pie graphs to support the narratives.



  • Best Presentation of Forward-Looking Information, i.e. Future Challenges: U.S. Small Business Administration
    • Identifies three conditions/trends that affect this agency’s constituents.
    • For each condition/trend, the agency provides a succinct description of the impact on constituents, and steps to minimize the impacts.
    • This award recognizes the great strides this agency has made over recent years in presenting future challenges.



  • Best MD&A Summary of Improper Payments: Federal Trade Commission
    • Describes OMB A-123 Appendix C (Requirements for Effective Measurement and Remediation of Improper Payments) requirements and the agency’s actions in complying with the guidance.
    • Sufficient but not excessive level of detail on improper payments for a Management’s Discussion & Analysis summary.
    • Contains hyperlink to the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act (IPERIA) of 2012 and pointed readers to the Other Information section of the AFR for additional information on improper payments.



  • Best Inspector General’s Summary of Management and Performance Challenges: U.S. Department of Labor
    • Succinct and clear descriptions of six challenges, four of which are programmatic.
    • Each description is divided into four sections: Background; Challenge for the Department; Department’s Progress; What Remains to Be Done.
    • Descriptions focus on the department’s challenges.



  • Best Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act Detail: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Overview of overall departmental status for each reporting element.
    • Extensive, coded presentations of improper payments detail for each of 15 programs, addressing each required information element.
    • Detailed discussion of corrective action plans and descriptions of best practices.



  • Best Glossary of Technical Terms: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    • Provides explanations of difficult words and terms unique to the agency’s mission that are not likely to be familiar to the average citizen but enhance the reader’s ability to understand the information provided in the annual report.
    • Provides further clarification of how the commercial markets regulated by this agency operate.
    • Assists in clarifying for readers how the agency is providing benefits to the average taxpayer that are in excess of the agency’s cost to taxpayers.

The CEAR ceremony is a great way to acknowledge the efforts of financial professionals who are the unsung heroes of financial and performance reporting.