Complexity Digest 2002.34 - 01.01

26-Aug-2002

Looking at the Books, the Government Way, NYTimes Bookmark and Share

Excerpts: The most recent report, covering 2001, was signed by Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill. It concluded that the government ran a deficit of $515 billion, using the accounting rules that are supposed to govern corporations.

By the accounting techniques normally used by Washington, the government posted a surplus last year of $127 billion. The difference stemmed largely from competing methods of accounting for health and pension costs. (...)

The government's finances continue to be opaque, complex and driven by politics in a way that private-sector bookkeeping generally is not.