When you “win” an award that costs you money, are you really winning an award?
Mychajliw’s office sent out a smoke and mirror press release proudly touting that his Erie County Comptrollers Office has “won a prestigious award” from an international accounting organization.
The Office of Erie County Comptroller, under the leadership of Stefan I. Mychajliw, Jr., has been nationally recognized again for its financial reporting excellence. The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) award, given by the Government Finance Officers Association, is a national organization that bestowed this recognition on Comptroller Mychajliw and his team for excellence in accounting.
The catch about the award is that it is hardly a special accommodation. The “Certificate of Achievement” certificate is widely given out by the (GFOA) to municipalities who request ( and pay) for a review. The certificate is based partly on the fee you pay in order for the organization to review your report and offer you the accommodation.
The fee structure for the award ranges from anywhere from $460 to $2500 (for non-members) and is based on the population size of your municipality. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) runs the program and reviews your entry. Once the entry seems to meet certain eligibility requirements, the GFOA grants you a certificate and the bragging rights that may or may not come with it.
The “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” acronym “CAFR” is also not without its own racial annotations and current controversy.
The acronym for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report when said aloud, which is commonplace, is pronounced in the same way as a profoundly offensive racial slur in South Africa:
“It is a term that took on its derogatory meaning during Apartheid where it was used to degrade, undermine, and strip South Africans of their dignity and humanity.
Additionally, the acronym has the same pronunciation as the Arabic word that means unbeliever – which is often applied in a derogatory manner.
To their credit, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, which establishes accounting and financial reporting standards for U.S. state and local governments, is formally considering an end to the term CAFR.
Important: Today #GFOA launched a new “End the Acronym” Initiative and released a new policy recommendation that will have widespread impact on the government finance industry. https://t.co/vGG93z3nq9 #ENDTHEACRONYM pic.twitter.com/vRtg2wiw2G
— GFOA (@GFOA) March 9, 2021
According to the GFOA website:
At this time, GFOA’s recommendation is to eliminate use of the acronym as it extends to any future written and verbal communications. While we support the full removal of the acronym from any digital assets, each local government must determine what resources are available to carry out additional implementation or historic adjustments related to this new recommendation. It is acceptable for localities to post the available Statement of Name Change Document to the database or website alerting interested stakeholders to the name change and the effective date. In this way, when someone searches for the acronym they will find the notification referencing the new way forward.
Cities like Pittsburgh, PA, and other municipalities have already begun to eliminate the use of the acronym.
As if on purpose and directly within our well-documented racist Comptroller’s current brand, Mychajliw failed to make the proper adjustments in his announcement and press release regarding the award, willfully ignoring the organization’s request for the removal of the racial slur.
Even when it looks like Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw may have actually done something right, it’s always just another scam to Erie County taxpayers.