Agency 16: Accounting

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The sixteenth agency in the community deals with accounting. The agency’s primary concern is facilitating proper financial reporting. It does so by setting up systems, guidelines, and training needed. The agency is part of the Data Bureau. Other agencies in the bureau are Agency 17 (Data and Publishing), and Agency 18 (QHSE).

Accounting profession

The Capital Bank Agency (agency 8) receives investment in the form of partnership interest from limited partners, which it in turn invests in community agencies, including the Accounting Agency. The Accounting Agency uses these funds for operations, including delivering chargeable services to participants. From its revenues, it pays the Capital Bank a return on its investment, which in turn enables the bank to pay limited partners handsome returns on their investments.

Accounting: Overview

Accounting involves the keeping of systematic, accurate, and complete financial information about a business. This information assists businesses in budgeting and planning. The information also helps businesses to evaluate possible causes of action while helping investors to correctly establish the financial health of a business, as well as its prospects.

There are two main branches of accounting: financial and management accounting. Financial accounting refers to the recording, summarizing, and reporting of financial transactions about a business. Financial accounting is historically oriented, typically reporting on financial events that have already occurred. The information that financial accounting summarizes and reports is usually for the consumption of external parties, who are interested in seeing how the business is doing to make better decisions about their engagement. Financial reporting tends to result in objective information, closely guided by generally accepted financial principles and guidelines.

Management accounting is concerned with analyzing and interpreting financial information to organize and manage a business. It is more detailed than financial reporting, providing important information such as cost accounting, profit per product, and other similar aspects. Management accounting is used to make decisions on marketing, resource allocation, and future financial projections. While it includes historical data, it is more focused on the future. It is mainly for internal consumption, as business owners try to use financial information to make business strategies. In these respects, management accounting is broader than financial accounting and contains sometimes subjective information.

Roles of the Accounting Agency

With the agency’s executive presidency providing the necessary strategic direction, which is implemented by the operational presidencies, the agency performs a number of duties as detailed below, with the help of its automated system and contractors. The duties include:

  • Facilitating financial reporting
  • Developing and monitoring the application of accounting standards and guidelines
  • Training on accounting processes
  • Registration of accounting contractors

Facilitating financial reporting

Businesses and community agencies need to maintain proper books of accounts, to enable them to plan, budget, and meet obligations such as taxation properly. Accounting information that they prepare should be complete, accurate, easy to understand, and objective. The Accounting Agency is concerned with enabling businesses and community agencies to achieve these goals, and in the process, improve their business performance and their understanding of accounting processes.

The Accounting Agency provides businesses with accounting systems that enable proper financial reporting. The accounting systems are designed to be integrated with other agencies’ systems, including audit and banking agencies, to enable a seamless transfer of information and accuracy in reporting. Such integration also helps agencies and businesses as they make decisions, with accurate information at hand.

Accounting standards and guidelines

In contemporary accounting practice, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) are important as they help businesses assign transactions properly, and simplify bookkeeping. GAAPs are particularly important because they ensure the consistency, clarity, and continuity of financial reports. Books of accounts prepared with the same guidelines are easily comparable. Through GAAPs, business owners can easily evaluate possible strategic options, since they have a complete picture of a business’s state.

In the community, accounting books will be markedly different from the way accounting is done in modern businesses. For instance, businesses will not have any assets, besides the cash they have at the bank, and the business itself. This and other unique community features will necessitate the drawing up of principles to complement those already used by accountants today, with a view of standardizing accounting practice while accommodating special business features in NewVistas.

The Accounting Agency will facilitate the formulation and implementation of these standards, by providing a platform on which accountants can come together and deliberate. The agency will, through its system, ensure that these principles are followed and that they are consistent with the law, bylaws, and accounting practice in the area within which a community operates.

Training

Every business owner needs to have at least some basic understanding of accounting. This helps them in understanding the health of their business, operational inefficiencies, and their obligations concerning taxes, licenses, and regulator fees, among others.

The Accounting Agency runs automated training sessions for all business owners to ensure they are competent enough to read financial reports and make good conclusions from them. The agency develops these sessions with the help of contractors. They are made simple to understand and advance in sophistication as a business owner becomes more familiar with accounting.

Registration and accreditation

Contractors who work as accountants are accredited and registered by the Accounting Agency. Through registration, the Accounting Agency also provides avenues through which professionals can network. Networking helps create strong professional relationships and business opportunities, education, and mentorship. Registered accountants can come together and collaborate on professional conferences that discuss industry best practice and research. Registration also means that participants can more easily access services when needed.

As stated elsewhere on this page, the Accounting Agency’s system and other aspects of the community’s economic setup minimize the need for many accountants as compared to contemporary practice. The registration process manages the number of contractors who are registered to work as accountants. It also provides a means of monitoring whether contractors are operating effectively to serve participants and grow their expertise. The agency, through operational presidencies,  helps them in instances where this is not the case.

How the agency works

Background on presidencies

Every presidency in the community is a four-member entity whose members represent one of the four major demographics: married men (A), married women (B), single women (C), and single men (D). However, a president serves the whole community in their role, rather than only their demographic. Presidents’ diversity and commitment to serve all is provided for in the community bylaws and ensures that all access services without any discrimination.

These four major demographics are evenly split in a normal society.  Each group accounts for between 23 and 27% of the population, with regular fluctuations as people’s status changes. The community appreciates that discrimination across all social categories happens based on marital status, other social categorizations notwithstanding; married men are likelier to dominate other demographics, especially single men and single women.

The community’s infrastructure promotes equal access to economic and social resources and opportunities. The composition of the community as a whole and those who serve it in the community public service is closely monitored to prevent numerical domination, which can lead to nepotism or unequal access.

Besides marital status, the recruitment to be a participant, and to serve in the public service carefully considers other social categorizations, to ensure racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual groups are well represented in the community as they are in the society in which a community operates. These considerations inform the constitution of the community public service. The diversity in community public service, which is provided by bylaws, is aimed at creating a community that is blind to all other considerations besides service to participants. The service is therefore designed to be free of discrimination.

Executive presidency, bureau board, and demographic presidencies

The Accounting Agency is served by an executive presidency, comprised of 4 presidents from the four major demographics, which handles strategy formulation and adjustment, as well as formulating and communicating operational procedures for the agency. Additionally, the presidency also facilitates the setting up of the agency’s automated system and adjusts it as necessary to better achieve its goals.

As part of the Data Bureau, the executive presidency forms a bureau board with executive presidencies serving the Datta & Publishing and QHSE agencies. The board acts as a check and monitoring tool for individual presidents and agencies, especially when decisions have far-reaching implications for the community. Within the bureau board, three presidents from the same demographic form a demographic presidency. There are four such presidencies in the bureau. The demographic presidency performs an advisory role to presidencies and agencies regarding a particular demographic; it does not have operational or executive authority. The demographic presidency also plays an important role in the mentorship and training of new presidents.

Demographic presidency ADemographic presidency BDemographic presidency CDemographic presidency D
Executive presidency, Accounting (16)16A16B16C16D
Executive presidency, Data, and Publishing (17)17A17B17C17D
Executive presidency, QHSE (15)18A18B18C18D

Operational presidencies

As part of the Data Bureau, the Accounting Agency is served by a team of 24 operational presidencies. Each operational presidency serves 1 district building, where they interact with executive presidency of the agency that has its offices in that building, and district, village, and branch presidencies. Since each presidency consists of four presidents, there are 96 operational presidents. Each president also belongs to a demographic presidency and a board. The operational presidencies are organized as detailed in the table below.

Operational presidents implement the strategic plans and policies that the executive presidency formulates. The presidents also interact with contractors and branch presidencies, offering them any facilitation necessary to serve participants better, collecting important information on the system’s functionality, and advising the executive presidency on how this system can be improved. They monitor the system to ensure it is meeting the participants’ expectations and needs.

Limited partners and branch presidencies

Limited partners and group council

A limited partner is the basic unit in the community. A limited person, usually above 18 years old, but sometimes as young as 16, has been admitted into the community and has invested $20,000 as partnership interest, for which they earn a return. This is regarded as one unit of partnership interest. Over time, a limited partner can add more units of partnership interest, as their business prospers. The more partnership interest units a limited partner has, the more the return they receive from the agency.

A dependent is a minor, or a person living with a disability, under the care of a limited partner. In some instances, a dependent may be a fit adult, who for various reasons is supported by community agencies, and assigned by contract to a limited partner.  Limited partners are responsible for any legal agreements that their dependents enter into, either with community agencies or other participants. Together, limited partners and dependents are referred to as participants.

Participants who are dependents, because they are still minors, can start a business when they reach 12 years of age. This allows them to save up and invest USD 20,000 into the community by their 18th birthday, and possibly as early as 16. Limited partners and their dependents reside in apartments (village buildings). Each apartment has 4 floors, with each floor containing 16 apartments.

Each floor has floor has 7 – 12 limited partners, with each limited partner having 1 – 3 dependents. Each floor therefore has around 25 residents. With four floors, each building has approximately 100 residents. An apartment building also forms a branch.

Captains and branch presidencies

Of the approximately 100 residents in a branch, around 40 of them are limited partners. The limited partners form 4 group councils of around 10 limited partners each. Each group council is diverse, containing different social groups that are reflective of the society within which a community operates. Additionally, a group contains members of the four main demographics: married men (A), married women (B), single women (C), and single men (D).

The council meets at least quarterly and provides limited partners with a platform to interact and discuss common interest matters to their demographic within their branch. One of the members of the group council serves the group as a captain. Four captains who serve the four groups in an apartment building (branch) form a branch presidency. A branch presidency’s membership is drawn from the four main demographics, for the purposes of representation.

Captains are responsible for recruiting limited partners into the community through their council and by extension, branch. The Human Relations Agency’s automated system develops a clear definition of the sort of recruits that the community needs. It then breaks it down to the most basic social organization in the community – group. The criteria and subsequent recruitment process carefully consider that group’s current composition, that of other groups in a branch, other branches, villages, and the district. Therefore, while the captain has the responsibility to recruit, their discretion is limited by what the system recommends. This ensures that not only does the community achieve and maintain balance in all respects, but it also eliminates any chance that a captain would recruit through discrimination or nepotism. 

A captain does not recruit limited partners only from their demographic. Instead, they work to ensure that their recruits are diverse, considering social categorizations, gender, and social status, in addition to demographic groups.

Captains work in concert with their fellow captains in the branch presidency, and other presidencies in a village and district to ensure that the district is as diverse as possible. They are guided by present data on how diverse their district, village, and branch are, and what needs to be focused on to improve. They are also guided by community bylaws, which expressly require diversity as shown by demographic data about a population from which the community intends to recruit limited partners.

The captain serves as a service extension of the Human Relations Agency, though they also act as an interface between participants and other community agencies. Captains help participants navigate the agency’s automated system and other relevant tools used by the different agencies to deliver services. 10 branches form a village. Each of the branch presidencies also belongs to a specific branch board. Branch boards provide an additional check and balance for captains and branch presidencies. Branches are numbered based on the village’s hub, in the direction of the breezeway one-way traffic direction.

Branch numbering

A hub is formed at the intersection of breezeways between villages. Hub buildings are used for a range of commercial activities that need to be closer to residential areas, such as daycare centers, grocery stores, and emergency centers, among others.

A branch’s number determines with whom its presidency will form a branch board. Branch presidencies 1, 2, and 3 form one branch board, as do 4, 5, and 6, and 7, 8, and 9.

Four villages make a district. The last branch presidency in each village in the community (branch presidency 10) combines with three others in their district or cluster of 3 districts to form additional branch boards. The last branch presidencies in villages 1, 2, and 3 in each district make a board. The last branch presidencies in village 4 of each of the 3 districts in a cluster also form a board.

Branch boards play an important advisory role in the recruitment process. As a captain recruits, he is advised by their board to ensure that their recruitment takes into consideration diversity, and utilizes available data to ensure balance in demographics, profession, social class, and any other relevant consideration.

Branch boards are formed as illustrated below:

Branch presidencies and boards

Besides belonging to a branch presidency and a board, every captain belongs to a demographic presidency of 3. A demographic presidency is made up of 3 captains within a board, and who serve the same demographic. The demographic presidency mainly serves an advisory function, safeguarding issues common to the particular demographic, and helping in mentorship and support for incoming captains.

The automated system is designed to help participants with all the help they need in accounting. However, should they run into problems, captains assist them navigate the system, or direct them to relevant contractors who help them at a fee.

Automated system

The Accounting Agency uses an automated system to deliver on its mandate. The system provides the tools needed to keep accounting information, and an opportunity to train participants and community public servants. If a participant has an issue using the system, they can hire a contractor, though it is envisaged that with sufficient training and regular adjustment to accommodate users’ needs, this will be a rare occurrence.

The automated system employs accounting process and robotic process automation. Accounting process automation refers to the automation of accounting processes such as settling accounts payable, preparing financial reports such as balance sheets and profit and loss accounts, and information sharing. Through APA, manual intervention and the use of spreadsheets to record and synthesize information are minimized, and in many cases, eliminated.

Robotic process automation refers to the use of robotic systems to carry out simple, repetitive tasks such as keying in transaction details. The automation form uses programmable bots to centralize information, such that a simple transaction is immediately analyzed in financial terms and shared with relevant platforms that the business uses. 

Besides helping in accounting processes, the automated system also plays a critical role in training. Training modules are uploaded by contractors, after which the system, by observing what each participant needs, prescribes the necessary training for them. This involves the use of machine learning and AI, as well as cloud computing to identify trends, analyze huge amounts of information, and design the best training approach and material for each user.

Contractors

The Accounting Agency registers qualified accountants to work as contractors in the community. Contractors provide specialized services to participants at a fee. The services involve helping their clients to navigate the system and consultancy. Through the agency’s registration and accreditation system, participants and contractors can easily connect. Before registration, the agency establishes a contractor’s qualification, specialization, experience, and other relevant details. These make it easier for participants to locate the contractor they need when the need arises.

With the help of the automated system, the community needs 2 accountants per village, which has 400 businesses. This translates to around 200 accountants in the community. Operational presidencies interact extensively with the contractors in an attempt to streamline their operations and identify areas of the automated system that can be improved. Each of the 24 operational presidencies who serves a district interacts with 8 contractors. Since the operational presidencies also serve the Data and Publishing and QHSE Agencies, they also interact with contractors in these agencies in the same fashion as they do with accountants.  

Interagency collaboration

The 24 community agencies form three columns, of 8 agencies each. The Accounting Agency is part of the first column. While agencies in a column do not enjoy the same level of collaboration as the three agencies in a bureau, they work together on a few areas of common interest. For the Accounting Agency, there is close coordination with the Business Planning Agency (agency 19). businesses evaluate different business plans based on the financial information available. The Accounting Agency also works with the IP Agency as participants work to commercialize their innovations. The Accounting Agency provides the necessary financial analysis and data to determine whether the investment in research and development will be worth what the IP may make once produced.

The Accounting Agency collaborates with the Community Bank (agency 7) as it works to process transactions into financial statements and reports. The agency also works with the Agricultural Land and Surrounding Areas Agency (agency 22) in assets’ financial management.

The 24 agencies are organized in rows and columns. Beyond working in their bureau (row), agencies also interact extensively within their column. An overview with links to the 12 agencies in the Human and Financial Capital Department is here, and an overview with links to the 12 agencies in the Process and Property Department is here. A more detailed version of this graphic with some historic background is posted here.

Presidencies’ offices, meetings, and quarterly conferences

Offices

The Accounting Agency’s executive presidency has its offices on building 16’s western side. On the eastern side, the trustee and the Regulatory Bureau’s operational presidencies that serve the Accounting Agency, as well as District 16, have their offices.

Trustees and the regulatory operational presidencies alternate their offices. Trustees have the offices in building 16 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the operational presidencies use the offices on Mondays and Wednesdays, as shown in this timetable:

Building 4/ Health and Nutrition AgencyBuilding 16/ Accounting Agency
MondayTrustee presidencyRegulatory Bureau Operational presidency
TuesdayRegulatory Bureau Operational presidencyTrustee presidency
WednesdayTrustee presidencyRegulatory Bureau Operational presidency
ThursdayRegulatory Bureau Operational presidencyTrustee presidency

The Data Bureau’s operational presidencies have offices on the first floor of every district building, with each of the 24 presidencies occupying offices in one building. This graphic shows district building 16’s first-floor layout, with offices for the executive presidency, trustees, and various operational presidencies indicated.

Accounting Agency ofices

Working hours and meetings

Community public servants, including the Accounting Agency’s executive presidency and the Regulatory Bureau’s operational presidencies, work from Monday to Thursday, from 8:00 to 8:45 in the morning. This time is dedicated to meeting clients and normal operational duties as the office requires. On Thursday, the whole presidency (four presidents serving A, B, C, and D) meets for a 45-minute meeting from 9:00 to 9:45 in the morning.

On the last Friday of each quarter, between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM, each demographic presidency meets. The three-member presidency discusses common bureau matters that are of interest to the demographic they serve. On Saturday, again between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM, the whole board meets, where the presidents present their input from the previous day’s demographic presidency meeting, and prepare for the quarterly conference. The aim is to have a cohesive presentation during the quarterly conference but tailored to specific demographic interests.

Quarterly conferences

Quarterly conferences are held on the last Sunday of each quarter, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, with a lunch break in between. During quarterly conferences, each demographic presidency sits together in the same row.

Quarterly conferences are held in District Buildings 5 and 17. Each building has a lower and higher assembly court. The different demographic groups use the assembly courts as follows:

BuildingAssembly courtDemographic
5Lower courtMarried men (A)
5Higher courtMarried Women (B)
17Lower courtSingle women (C)
17Higher courtSingle men (D)

Each of the four assembly courts has seats for 480 presidents representing the respective demographic. In the diagram below each of the 4 courts is illustrated. The ceiling of each court has an elliptical arch that enables executive presidents, who are the only ones who make a presentation during the conference, to speak without the need of amplifying their voice. The 480 seats are easily rotatable to enable presidents to face whoever is speaking. Each of the four courts has an identical arrangement and number of seats. The exact arrangement of each court can therefore be illustrated using one court, in this case, building 5’s lower court that is used by married men (A).

Assembly hall

Within an assembly court, the 480 presidents are arranged in terms of demographic presidencies of 3. The Data Bureau’s demographic presidency for married men (16A, 17A, and 18A) sits as highlighted in the graphic below.

Accounting agency seats

The 24 operational presidents for married men (A) are organized into 8 demographic presidencies: 1,2, 3/ 4, 5, 6/ 7, 8, 9/ 10, 11, 12/13,14,15/ 16,17,18/ 19,20,21/ and 22,23,24.

Data Bureau demographic presidency
Representations of hierarchical- and matrix-type organizations.
The structure of a hierarchical-type organization is shown on the left, and that of a matrix-type organization is shown on the right.


Some additional notes/definitions from an earlier version of this page:

  • Among other factors, an entity’s financial performance and efficiency is tied to its financial reporting. This is especially so when the accounting function is not just an archiver of historical records, but takes an active role in planning. In the community, the Accounting Agency will be enable the community infrastructure perform at full capacity (Chen, F., et al. “Financial Reporting Quality and Investment Efficiency of Private Firms in Emerging Markets.” Accounting Review, Forthcoming (2010): electronic.).
  • Studies have shown that online training can, when conducted properly, have greater rewards than in-person training. It saves time and resources, and due to the flexibility allowed, can result in better outcomes for the trainees. This will augur well for the Accounting Agency, which has neither the time and other resources required for in-person training, nor the organizational capacity to execute it (Sandlin, C. “An Analysis of Online Training: Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Implementation Methods in a Corporate Environment.” East Tenessee University (thesis) (2013): 1-26. electronic.).
  • In contemporary organizations, the bottom-line (net profit/earnings/surplus) can be enhanced through reduced wastage, expenses and other factors. This means that the more efficient an organization is, the more its bottom-line will grow (Lean-CPA. Efficiency helps the bottomline. 2019. 01 06 2019.).
  • Through sound financial reporting practices, accounting departments and entities help organizations build up, and benefit from, “reputational capital.” The community is build on among other things, the integrity of its systems, and the ability of its structures to prevent fraud and misrepresentation, which could severely impair judgement. The Accounting Agency’s work will help in actualizing this (Jackson, K. Building Reputational Capital: Strategies for Integrity and Fair Play that Improve the Bottom-line. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.)
  • Financial ratios are used to examine and compare an organization’s financial structure, health, and to provide a more general, yet detailed report on the entity’s performance. The use of ratios in the community will detail both the community economy’s performance, while also detailing the community agencies’ actual financial performance (Adedeji, E. “A Tool for Measuring Organization Performance using Ratio Analysis.” 4.19 (2014): 16-22.).
  • Businesses, especially small enterprises, highly value business advice given by accountants, with a survey revealing that up to 78% of American small business regard accountants as the primary and most trusted source of business advice. The ability to advice is based on accountants understanding of what financial reporting trends and performance indicators mean, and what can be done to improve business performance through sound financial management. The Accounting Agency will be operating in an economy where virtually every business is a small business, in need of accounting advice, which might be impractical to have in-house (Accounting-Today. A small-business barometer for 2019. 06 11 2018. 02 06 2019.).
  • Technology is also greatly affecting the way accounting is done in organizations. Powered by blockchain and AI, accounting tools are more advanced, giving businesses better information to make decisions. In the community, participants will need to update themselves on such changes, which could greatly help their understanding of accounting, and harness its power to drive business growth (Tysiac, K. and J. Drew. “Accounting firms: The next generation.” Journal of Accounting (2018): published online.).
  • Within the community, the Accounting Agency will be tasked with formulating accounting standards and practice guidelines that help enhance business growth, as well as the accuracy, completeness and reliability of reports. Standards will also provide the community with a standardized financial reporting platform, enabling other community agencies and businesses better interpret the information (Beke, J. International Accounting Standardization. Oxford: Chartridge Books, 2014.)
  • Once the standards have been developed, they must then be harmonized with existing GAAPs and FRS, among other standards. This is because financial reports are not for intra-community consumption only, but are also used outside the community, and need to be standardized (HLS. Harmonization of GAAP and IFRS. 27 02 2008. 01 06 2019.).
  • With the help of business owners, the Accounting Agency will identify areas which require standards that work for the community. These standards and practices will then be derived, with rigorous examination to ensure that define them and what benefit they give business owners and the community as a whole (FASB. Standard-setting process. 2019. 01 06 2019.)
  • Handlers of financial information have a duty to keep such information confidential, especially when it relates to third parties. Disclosure should be backed either by consent of the owner of the information, or under legal instructions to do so (LII. 12 U.S. Code § 3403. Confidentiality of financial records. 2019. 02 06 2019.).
  • One of the main reasons why innovations fail is lack of financial planning, coupled with an overconfident innovator who expects instant financial success. The Accounting Agency can help the innovator in better financial planning, in collaboration with other agencies, and give the proposed IP a reality check (Levine, A. Why Innovation Fails. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1980.)