GASB is taking on SEAs. And from the perspective of several government associations and their members, this move by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board is not only big, it also is belligerent.

In an April press release, GASB announced that it had added the Service Efforts and Accomplishments--SEAs--project to its current agenda. In other words, GASB is moving beyond staff study to development of performance-measure guidelines for state and local governments that want to report the results. The guidelines, says Jay Fountain, former assistant director of research at GASB, "will be principle based, not rule based."

GASB is taking this action despite strenuous objections by the Big 7 public-interest groups and the Government Finance Officers Association. Those associations have argued that, while they agree with the importance of performance measures for government services and the value of reporting them, they do not believe that GASB is the appropriate body to set those standards. GFOA is angry enough at GASB to detail on its Web site its argument for "sunsetting" GASB. The accounting board's spokesman, Gerard Carney, warns that the call for a reassessment of GASB "is a direct threat to the independent standard- setting process."