Note 1. Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services
Report
November 21, 2017


 

 

Fiscal Year

Unless otherwise designated all use of a year indicates fiscal year, e.g., 2017 equals Fiscal Year 2017.

Reporting Entity and Basis of Consolidation

The accompanying principal financial statements present the financial activities and position of the Department of State. The Statements include all General, Special, Revolving, Trust, and Deposit funds established at the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) to account for the resources entrusted to Department management, or for which the Department acts as a fiscal agent or custodian (except fiduciary funds, see Note 19).

Included in the Department’s reporting entity is the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). Treaties in 1848, 1853, and 1970 established the boundary between the United States and Mexico that extends 1,954 miles, beginning at the Gulf of Mexico, following the Rio Grande a distance of 1,255 miles and eventually ending at the Pacific Ocean below California. Established in 1889, the IBWC has responsibility for applying the boundary and water treaties between the United States and Mexico and settling differences that may arise in their application.

Basis of Presentation and Accounting

The statements are prepared as required by the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act of 1990, as amended by the Government Management Reform Act of 1994. They are presented in accordance with the form and content requirements of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-136, Financial Reporting Requirements, revised.

The statements have been prepared from the Department’s books and records, and are in accordance with the Department’s Accounting Policies (the significant policies are summarized in this Note). The Department’s Accounting Policies follow U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for Federal entities, as prescribed by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB). FASAB’s Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards (SFFAS) No. 34, The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, Including the Application of Standards Issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, incorporates the GAAP hierarchy into FASAB’s authoritative literature.

Throughout the financial statements and notes, certain assets, liabilities, earned revenue, and costs have been classified as intragovernmental, which is defined as transactions made between two reporting entities within the Federal Government.

Transactions are recorded on both an accrual and budgetary basis. Under the accrual method of accounting, revenues are recognized when earned and expenses are recognized when incurred without regard to receipt or payment of cash. Budgetary accounting principles, on the other hand, are designed to facilitate compliance with legal requirements and controls over the use of Federal funds.

Revenues and Other Financing Sources

Photo showing Secretary Tillerson standing for a moment of silence to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country around the world at the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Affairs Day Memorial Plaque Ceremony in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2017.

Secretary Tillerson stands for a moment of silence to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country around the world at the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Day Memorial Plaque Ceremony in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2017. Department of State

Department operations are financed through appropriations, reimbursement for the provision of goods or services to other Federal agencies, proceeds from the sale of property, certain consular-related and other fees, and donations. In addition, the Department collects passport, visa, and other consular fees that are not retained by the Department but are deposited directly to a Treasury account. The passport and visa fees are reported as earned revenues on the Statement of Net Cost and as non-entity collections in other financing sources on the Statement of Changes in Net Position.

Congress annually enacts one-year and multi-year appropriations that provide the Department with the authority to obligate funds within the respective fiscal years for necessary expenses to carry out mandated program activities. In addition, Congress enacts appropriations that are available until expended. All appropriations are subject to congressional restrictions and most appropriations are subject to OMB apportionment. For financial statement purposes, appropriations are recorded as a financing source (i.e., Appropriations Used) and reported on the Statement of Changes in Net Position at the time they are recognized as expenditures. Appropriations expended for capitalized property and equipment are recognized when the asset is purchased.

Work performed for other Federal agencies under reimbursable agreements is financed through the account providing the service and reimbursements are recognized as revenue when earned. Administrative support services at overseas posts are provided to other Federal agencies through the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS). ICASS bills for the services it provides to agencies at overseas posts. These billings are recorded as revenue to ICASS and must cover overhead costs, operating expenses, and replacement costs for capital assets needed to carry on the operation. Proceeds from the sale of real property, vehicles, and other personal property are recognized as revenue when the proceeds are credited to the account that funded the asset. For non-capitalized property, the full amount realized is recognized as revenue. For capitalized property, revenue or loss is determined by whether the proceeds received were more or less than the net book value of the asset sold. The Department retains proceeds of sale, which are available for purchase of the same or similar category of property.

The Department is authorized to collect and retain certain user fees for machine-readable visas, expedited passport processing, and fingerprint checks on immigrant visa applicants. The Department is also authorized to credit the respective appropriations with (1) fees for the use of Blair House; (2) lease payments and transfers from the International Center Chancery Fees Held in Trust to the International Center Project; (3) registration fees for the Office of Defense Trade Controls; (4) reimbursement for international litigation expenses; and (5) reimbursement for training foreign government officials at the Foreign Service Institute.

Generally, donations received in the form of cash or financial instruments are recognized as revenue at their fair value in the period received. Contributions of services are recognized if the services received (1) create or enhance non-financial assets, or (2) require specialized skills that are provided by individuals possessing those skills, which would typically need to be purchased if not donated. Works of art, historical treasures, and similar assets that are added to collections are not recognized at the time of donation. If subsequently sold, proceeds from the sale of these items are recognized in the year of sale. More information on earned revenues can be found in Note 15.

Allocation Transfers

Allocation transfers are legal delegations by one Federal agency of its authority to obligate budget authority and outlay funds to another agency. The Department processes allocation transfers with other Federal agencies as both a transferring (parent) agency of budget authority to a receiving (child) entity and as a receiving (child) agency of budget authority from a transferring (parent) entity. A separate fund account (allocation account) is created in the Treasury as a subset of the parent fund account for tracking and reporting purposes. Subsequent obligations and outlays incurred by the child agency are charged to this allocation account as they execute the delegated activity on behalf of the parent agency.

Generally, all financial activities related to allocation transfers (i.e., budget authority, obligations, outlays) are reported in the financial statements of the parent agency. Transfers from the Executive Office of the President, for which the Department is the receiving agency, is an exception to this rule. Per OMB guidance, the Department reports all activity relative to these allocation transfers in its financial statements. The Department allocates funds, as the parent, to the Departments of Defense, Labor (DOL), Treasury, Health and Human Services (HHS); the Peace Corps; Millennium Challenge Corporation; and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In addition, the Department receives allocation transfers, as the child, from USAID.

Fund Balance with Treasury and Cash and Other Monetary Assets

The Fund Balance with Treasury is the unexpended balances of appropriation accounts, trust accounts, and revolving funds. It is available to finance authorized commitments relative to goods, services, and benefits. The Department does not maintain cash in commercial bank accounts for the funds reported in the Consolidated Balance Sheet, except for the Emergencies in the Diplomatic and Consular Services, Foreign Service National Defined Contributions Retirement Fund, and the Chancery Development Trust Account. In 2017, the Department transferred the Chancery Development Trust Account funds from a third party investment to Treasury invested non-marketable securities. This account is referred to as the International Center. See Note 4, Investments. Treasury processes domestic cash receipts and disbursements on behalf of the Department and the Department’s accounting records are reconciled with those of Treasury on a monthly basis.

The Department operates two Financial Service Centers located in Bangkok, Thailand and Charleston, South Carolina. These provide financial support for the Department and other Federal agencies’ operations overseas. The U.S. Disbursing Officer at each Center has the delegated authority to disburse funds on behalf of the Treasury. See Notes 3 and 6.

Accounts and Loans Receivable

Accounts and Loans Receivable consist of Intragovernmental Accounts Receivable and non-Federal Accounts and Loans Receivable. Intragovernmental Accounts Receivable are amounts owed the Department principally from other Federal agencies for ICASS services, reimbursable agreements, and Working Capital Fund services. Accounts and Loans Receivable from non-Federal entities primarily consist of amounts owed the Department for civil monetary fines and penalties, Value Added Tax (VAT) reimbursements not yet received, repatriation loans due, and IBWC receivables for Mexico’s share of IBWC activities. Civil monetary fines and penalties are assessed on individuals for such infractions as violating the terms and munitions licenses, exporting unauthorized defense articles and services, and violation of manufacturing licenses agreements. VAT receivables are for taxes paid on purchases overseas in which the Department has reimbursable agreements with the country for taxes it pays. The U.S. and Mexican governments generally share the total costs of IBWC projects in proportion to their respective benefits in cases of projects for mutual control and utilization of the waters of a boundary river, unless the Governments have predetermined by treaty the division of costs according to the nature of a project.

The Department provides repatriation loans for destitute American citizens overseas whereby the Department becomes the lender of last resort. These loans provide assistance to pay for return transportation, food and lodging, and medical expenses. The borrower executes a promissory note without collateral. Consequently, the loans are made anticipating a low rate of recovery. Interest, penalties, and administrative fees are assessed if the loan becomes delinquent.

Accounts and Loans Receivable from non-Federal entities are subject to the full debt collection cycle and mechanisms, e.g., salary offset, referral to collection agents, and Treasury offset. In addition, Accounts Receivable from non-Federal entities are assessed interest, penalties, and administrative fees if they become delinquent. Interest and penalties are assessed at the Current Value of Funds Rate established by Treasury. Accounts Receivable is reduced to net realizable value by an Allowance for Uncollectible Accounts. This allowance is recorded using aging methodologies based on an analysis of past collections and write-offs. See Note 5 for more information on Accounts and Loans Receivable, Net.

Photo showing Hôtel Rothschild, the official residence of the U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco that was constructed between 1852 and 1855. It measures over 7,000 square meters and occupies a 1.2-hectare site at 41 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, a short distance from the U.S. Embassy and the home and offices of the French President, the Elysée Palace.

Hôtel Rothschild, the official residence of the U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco was constructed between 1852 and 1855. It measures over 7,000 square meters and occupies a 1.2-hectare site at 41 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, a short distance from the U.S. Embassy and the home and offices of the French President, the Elysée Palace. Department of State/OBO

Interest Receivable

Interest earned on investments, but not received as of September 30, is recognized as interest receivable.

Advances and Prepayments

Payments made in advance of the receipt of goods and services are recorded as advances or prepayments, and recognized as expenses when the related goods and services are received. Prepayments are made principally to other Federal entities or lease holders for future services. Advances are made to Department employees for official travel, salary advances to Department employees transferring to overseas assignments, and other miscellaneous prepayments and advances for future services. Advances and prepayments are reported as Other Assets on the Consolidated Balance Sheet. Typically, USAID Federal assistance results in a net advance in Other Assets. Additional information may be found in Note 8.

Investments

The Department has several accounts that have the authority to invest cash resources. For these accounts, the cash resources not required to meet current expenditures are invested in interest-bearing obligations of the U.S. Government. These investments consist of U.S. Treasury special issues and securities. Special issues are unique public debt obligations for purchase exclusively by the Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Fund and for which interest is computed and paid semi-annually on June 30 and December 31. They are purchased and redeemed at par, which is their carrying value on the Consolidated Balance Sheet.

Investments by the Department’s Gift, Israeli Arab Scholarship, Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship, Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue, and International Center accounts are in U.S. Treasury securities. Interest on these investments is paid semi-annually at various rates. These investments are reported at acquisition cost, which equals the face value net of unamortized discounts or premiums. Discounts and premiums are amortized over the life of the security using the straight-line method for Gift Funds investments, and effective interest method for the other accounts. Additional information on Investments can be found in Note 4.

Property and Equipment

Real Property

Real property assets primarily consist of facilities used for U.S. diplomatic missions abroad and capital improvements to these facilities, including unimproved land; residential and functional-use buildings such as embassy/consulate office buildings; office annexes and support facilities; and construction-in-progress. Title to these properties is held under various conditions including fee simple, restricted use, crown lease, and deed of use agreement. Some of these properties are considered historical treasures and are considered multi-use heritage assets. These items are reported on the Consolidated Balance Sheet, in Note 7 to the financial statements, and in the Heritage Assets Section.

The Department also owns several domestic real properties, including the National Foreign Affairs Training Center (Arlington, Va.); the International Center (Washington, D.C.); the Charleston Financial Services Center (S.C.); the Beltsville Information Management Center (Md.); the Florida Regional Center (Ft. Lauderdale); and consular centers in Charleston, S.C., Portsmouth, N.H., and Williamsburg, Ky. The Foreign Missions Act authorizes the Department to facilitate the secure and efficient operation in the United States of foreign missions. The Act established the Office of Foreign Missions to manage acquisitions, including leases, additions, and sales of real property by foreign missions. In certain cases, based on reciprocity, the Department owns real property in the United States that is used by foreign missions for diplomatic purposes. The IBWC owns buildings and structures related to its boundary preservation, flood control, and sanitation programs.

Buildings and structures are carried at either actual or estimated historical cost. The Department capitalizes all costs for constructing new buildings and building acquisitions regardless of cost, and all other improvements of $1 million or more. Costs incurred for constructing new facilities, major rehabilitations, or other improvements in the design or construction stage are recorded as construction-in-progress. After these projects are substantially complete, costs are transferred to Buildings and Structures or Leasehold Improvements, as appropriate. Depreciation is computed on a straight-line basis over the asset’s estimated life and begins when the property is placed into service. The estimated useful lives for real property are as follows:

Real Property Estimated Useful Life by Asset Category
Asset Category Estimated Useful Life
Land Improvements 30 years
Buildings and Structures 10 to 50 years
Assets Under Capital Lease Lease term or 30 years
Leasehold Improvements Lesser of lease term or 10 years

Personal Property

Personal property consists of several asset categories including aircraft, vehicles, security equipment, communication equipment, automated data processing (ADP) equipment, reproduction equipment, and software. The Department holds title to these assets, some of which are operated in unusual conditions, as described below.

The Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) uses aircraft to help eradicate and stop the flow of illegal drugs. To accomplish its mission, INL maintains an aircraft fleet that is one of the largest Federal, nonmilitary fleets. Most of the aircraft are under direct INL air wing management. However, a number of aircraft are managed by host-countries. The Department holds title to most of the aircraft under these programs and requires congressional notification to transfer title for any aircraft to foreign governments. INL contracts with firms to provide maintenance support depending on whether the aircraft are INL air wing managed or host-country managed. INL air wing managed aircraft are maintained to Federal Aviation Administration standards that involve routine inspection, as well as scheduled maintenance and replacements of certain parts after given hours of use. Host-country managed aircraft are maintained to host-country requirements, which are less than Federal Aviation Administration standards.

The Department also maintains a large vehicle fleet that operates overseas. Many vehicles require armoring for security reasons. For some locations, large utility vehicles are used instead of conventional sedans. In addition, the Department contracts with firms to provide support in strife-torn areas, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Contractor support includes the purchase and operation of armored vehicles. Under the terms of the contracts, the Department has title to the contractor-held vehicles.

Personal property and equipment with an acquisition cost of $25,000 or more, and a useful life of two or more years, is capitalized at cost. Additionally, all vehicles are capitalized, as well as internal use software with cost of $500,000 or more. Except for contractor-held vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, depreciation is calculated on a straight-line basis over the asset’s estimated life and begins when the property is placed into service. Contractor-held vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, due to the harsh operating conditions, are depreciated on a double-declining balance basis. The estimated useful lives for personal property are as follows:

Personal Property Estimated Useful Life by Asset Category
Asset Category Estimated Useful Life
Aircraft:  
INL air wing managed 10 years
Host-country managed 5 years
Vehicles:  
Department managed 3 to 6 years
Contractor-held in Iraq and Afghanistan 2 ½ years
Security Equipment 3 to 15 years
Communication Equipment 3 to 20 years
ADP Equipment 3 to 6 years
Reproduction Equipment 3 to 15 years
Internal Use Software Estimated useful life or 5 years

See Note 7, Property and Equipment, Net, for additional information.

Capital Leases

Leases are accounted for as capital leases if the value is $1 million or more and they meet one of the following criteria: (1) the lease transfers ownership of the property by the end of the lease term; (2) the lease contains an option to purchase the property at a bargain price; (3) the lease term is equal to or greater than 75 percent of the estimated useful life of the property; or (4) at the inception of the lease, the present value of the minimum lease payment equals or exceeds 90 percent of the fair value of the leased property. The initial recording of a lease’s value (with a corresponding liability) is the lesser of the net present value of the lease payments or the fair value of the leased property. Capital leases that meet criteria (1) or (2) are depreciated over the useful life of the asset (30 years). Capital leases that meet criteria (3) or (4) are depreciated over the term of the lease. Capital lease liabilities are amortized over the term of the lease; if the lease has an indefinite term, the term is capped at 50 years. Additional information on capital leases is disclosed in Note 12, Leases.

Stewardship Property and Equipment

Stewardship Property and Equipment, or Heritage Assets, are assets that have historical or natural significance; are of cultural, educational, or artistic importance; or have significant architectural characteristics. They are generally considered priceless and are expected to be preserved indefinitely. As such, these assets are reported in terms of physical units rather than cost or other monetary values. See Note 7.

Grants

The Department awards educational, cultural exchange, and refugee assistance grants to various individuals, universities, and non-profit organizations. Budgetary obligations are recorded when grants are awarded. Grant funds are disbursed in two ways: grantees draw funds commensurate with their immediate cash needs via HHS’ Payment Management System; or grantees request reimbursement for their expenditures.

Accounts Payable

Accounts payable represent the amounts accrued for contracts for goods and services received but unpaid at the end of the fiscal year and unreimbursed grant expenditures. In addition to accounts payables recorded through normal business activities, unbilled payables are estimated based on historical data.

Accrued Annual, Sick, and Other Leave

Annual leave is accrued as it is earned by Department employees, and the accrual is reduced as leave is taken. Throughout the year, the balance in the accrued annual leave liability account is adjusted to reflect current pay rates. The amount of the adjustment is recorded as an expense. Current or prior year appropriations are not available to fund annual leave earned but not taken. Funding occurs in the year the leave is taken and payment is made. Sick leave and other types of non-vested leave are expensed as taken.

Employee Benefit Plans

Retirement Plans: Civil Service employees participate in either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Members of the Foreign Service participate in either the Foreign Service Retirement and Disability System (FSRDS) or the Foreign Service Pension System (FSPS).

Employees covered under CSRS contribute 7 percent of their salary; the Department contributes 7 percent. Employees covered under CSRS also contribute 1.45 percent of their salary to Medicare insurance; the Department makes a matching contribution. On January 1, 1987, FERS went into effect pursuant to Public Law No. 99-335. Most employees hired after December 31, 1983, are automatically covered by FERS and Social Security. Employees hired prior to January 1, 1984, were allowed to join FERS or remain in CSRS. Employees participating in FERS contribute 0.8 percent or 3.1 percent (depending on date of hire) of their salary, with the Department making contributions of 13.7 percent or 11.9 percent. FERS employees also contribute 6.2 percent to Social Security and 1.45 percent to Medicare insurance. The Department makes matching contributions to both. A primary feature of FERS is that it offers a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) into which the Department automatically contributes 1 percent of pay and matches employee contributions up to an additional 4 percent.

Foreign Service employees hired prior to January 1, 1984 participate in FSRDS, with certain exceptions. FSPS was established pursuant to Section 415 of Public Law No. 99-335, which became effective June 6, 1986. Foreign Service employees hired after December 31, 1983 participate in FSPS with certain exceptions. FSRDS employees contribute 7.25 percent of their salary; the Department contributes 7.25 percent. FSPS employees contribute 1.35 percent of their salary; the Department contributes 20.22 percent. FSRDS and FSPS employees contribute 1.45 percent of their salary to Medicare; the Department matches their contribution. FSPS employees also contribute 6.2 percent to Social Security; the Department makes a matching contribution. Similar to FERS, FSPS also offers the TSP.

Foreign Service National (FSN) employees at overseas posts who were hired prior to January 1, 1984, are covered under CSRS. FSN employees hired after that date are covered under a variety of local government plans in compliance with the host country’s laws and regulations. In cases where the host country does not mandate plans or the plans are inadequate, employees are covered by plans that conform to the prevailing practices of comparable employers.

Health Insurance: Most American employees participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), a voluntary program that provides protection for enrollees and eligible family members in cases of illness and/or accident. Under FEHBP, the Department contributes the employer’s share of the premium as determined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Life Insurance: Unless specifically waived, employees are covered by the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program (FEGLIP). FEGLIP automatically covers eligible employees for basic life insurance in amounts equivalent to an employee’s annual pay, rounded up to the next thousand dollars plus $2,000. The Department pays one-third and employees pay two-thirds of the premium. Enrollees and their family members are eligible for additional insurance coverage, but the enrollee is responsible for the cost of the additional coverage.

Other Post Employment Benefits: The Department does not report CSRS, FERS, FEHBP, or FEGLIP assets, accumulated plan benefits, or unfunded liabilities applicable to its employees; OPM reports this information. As required by SFFAS No. 5, Accounting for Liabilities of the Federal Government, the Department reports the full cost of employee benefits for the programs that OPM administers. The Department recognizes an expense and imputed financing source for the annualized unfunded portion of CSRS, post-retirement health benefits, and life insurance for employees covered by these programs. The additional costs are not owed or paid to OPM, and thus are not reported on the Consolidated Balance Sheet as a liability. Instead, they are reported as an imputed financing source from costs absorbed from others on the Consolidated Statement of Changes in Net Position.

Future Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides income and medical cost protection to cover Federal employees injured on the job or who have incurred a work-related occupational disease, and beneficiaries of employees whose death is attributable to job-related injury or occupational disease. The DOL administers the FECA program. DOL initially pays valid claims and bills the employing Federal agency. DOL calculates the actuarial liability for future workers’ compensation benefits and reports to each agency its share of the liability.

Photo showing the new U.S. Embassy in N'Djamena, Chad, situated on a 12-acre site. It includes supporting buildings for the Chancery, Marine Security Guard, and the Embassy community.

The new U.S. Embassy in N’Djamena, Chad, situated on a 12-acre site, includes supporting buildings for the Chancery, Marine Security Guard, and the Embassy community. Department of State/OBO

Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Fund

The Department manages the Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Fund (FSRDF). To ensure it operates on a sound financial basis, the Department retains an actuarial firm to perform a valuation to project if the Fund’s assets together with the expected future contributions are adequate to cover the value of future promised benefits. To perform this valuation the actuary projects the expected value of future benefits and the stream of expected future employer and employee contributions. The valuation serves as a basis for the determination of the needed employer contributions to the retirement fund and is based on a wide variety of economic assumptions, such as assumed investment returns, and demographic assumptions, such as rates of mortality. Since both the economic and demographic experience change over time, it is essential to conduct periodic reviews of the actual experience and to adjust the assumptions in the valuation, as appropriate. To reflect the most recent experience and future expectations, approximately every five years, including 2014, the actuary is retained to conduct this review, known as an Actuarial Experience Study.

Foreign Service Nationals’ After-Employment Benefits

Defined Contributions Fund (DCF) – This fund provides retirement benefits for FSN employees in countries where the Department has made a public interest determination to discontinue participation in the Local Social Security System. Title 22, Foreign Relations and Intercourse, Section 3968, Local Compensation Plans, provides the authority to the Department to establish such benefits as part of a total compensation plan for these employees.

Defined Benefit Plans – The Department has implemented various arrangements for defined benefit pension plans in other countries, for the benefit of some FSN employees. Some of these plans supplement the host country’s equivalent to U.S. social security, others do not. While none of these supplemental plans are mandated by the host country, some are substitutes for optional tiers of a host country’s social security system. The Department accounts for these plans under the provisions and guidance contained in International Accounting Standards (IAS) No. 19, Employee Benefits. IAS No. 19 provides a better structure for the reporting of these plans which are established in accordance with local practices in countries overseas.

Lump Sum Retirement and Severance – Under some local compensation plans, FSN employees are entitled to receive a lump-sum separation payment when they resign, retire, or otherwise separate through no fault of their own. The amount of the payment is generally based on length of service, rate of pay at the time of separation, and the type of separation.

International Organizations Liability

The United States is a member of the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations and supports UN peacekeeping operations. As such, the United States either contributes to voluntary funds or an assessed share of the budgets and expenses of these organizations and activities. These payments are funded through congressional appropriations to the Department. The purpose of these appropriations is to ensure continued American leadership within those organizations and activities that serve important U.S. interests. Funding by appropriations for dues assessed for certain international organizations is not received until the fiscal year following assessment. These commitments are regarded as funded only when monies are authorized and appropriated by Congress. For financial reporting purposes, the amounts assessed, pledged, and unpaid are reported as liabilities of the Department. Additional information is disclosed in Note 11.

Contingent Liabilities

Contingent liabilities are liabilities where the existence or amount of the liability cannot be determined with certainty pending the outcome of future events. The Department recognizes contingent liabilities when the liability is probable and reasonably estimable. See Note 13.

Net Position

The Department’s net position contains the following components:

Unexpended Appropriations – Unexpended appropriations is the sum of undelivered orders and unobligated balances. Undelivered orders represent the amount of obligations incurred for goods or services ordered, but not yet received. An unobligated balance is the amount available after deducting cumulative obligations from total budgetary resources. As obligations for goods or services are incurred, the available balance is reduced.

Cumulative Results of Operations – The cumulative results of operations include the accumulated difference between revenues and financing sources less expenses since inception and donations.

Net position of funds from dedicated collections (formerly “earmarked funds”) is separately disclosed. See Note 14.

Foreign Currency

Accounting records for the Department are maintained in U.S. dollars, while a significant amount of the Department’s overseas expenditures are in foreign currencies. For accounting purposes, overseas obligations and disbursements are recorded in U.S. dollars based on the rate of exchange as of the date of the transaction. Foreign currency payments are made by the U.S. Disbursing Office.

Fiduciary Activities

Fiduciary activities are the collection or receipt, and the management, protection, accounting, investment, and disposition by the Federal Government of cash or other assets in which non-Federal individuals or entities have an ownership interest that the Federal Government must uphold. The Department’s fiduciary activities are not recognized on the principal financial statements, but are reported on schedules as a note to the financial statements. The Department’s fiduciary activities include receiving contributions from donors for the purpose of providing compensation for certain claims within the scope of an established agreement, investment of contributions into Treasury securities, and disbursement of contributions received within the scope of the established agreement. See Note 19.

Use of Estimates

The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions, and exercise judgment that affects the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, net position, and disclosure of contingent liabilities as of the date of the financial statements, and the reported amounts of revenues, financing sources, expenses, and obligations incurred during the reporting period. These estimates are based on management’s best knowledge of current events, historical experience, actions the Department may take in the future, and various other assumptions that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances. Due to the size and complexity of many of the Department’s programs, the estimates are subject to a wide range of variables, including assumptions on future economic and financial events. Accordingly, actual results could differ from those estimates.