Government and Nonprofit Research Data Availability and Sources

Listed below are some data sources that have been used in prior Government and Not for Profit (GNP) research. We are listing this information in the hope that it would be of some assistance to individuals interested in GNP research and help stimulate more research on GNP issues. If you are aware of more data sources, or if you would like to add to or comment about the data posted, please feel free to email either the webmaster Dwayne McSwain (, or the GNP section Vice President and Director of Education & Research, Donald R. Deis (

The information has been compiled in many cases by faculty and researchers who have actually used these data sources. The opinions expressed concerning the quality of data and ease of access / collection represent the views of the researchers who have had some experience in actually using the data. In almost all cases, contact information about researchers who assisted in compiling different aspects of the data listed below are also provided. Please feel free to contact the researchers in case you need further information concerning any specific data source listed, or if you have questions relating to any particular area of research.

We hope that you find this information useful. We encourage and will appreciate feedback, comments, and information concerning additional data sources that can be listed here.

I. Governmental Accounting and Auditing Research


Larry Johnson
Colorado State University
Ph: 970.491.6126
Randy Elder
Syracuse University

Foreword: This list of research areas and sources is relatively short, especially compared to accounting and auditing research for private sector entities, and emphasizes auditing research. The emphasis on auditing partially reflects the interests of the contact persons in this area. However, the limited amount of accounting research reflects the complexity of governmental accounting, and a lack of data in machine-readable form. The list also emphasizes local government, but there are many examples of significant research involving state government and school districts.

A. Audit:

Topic Sources and Comments Examples1
Audit fees2 Data is usually obtained by survey using directories of officials.
National: Carroll's Municipal Directory
State: state directories or data sources
Rubin (1988), Copley (1989)
Baber et al. (1987), Ward et al. (1994)
Audit quality Quality studies usually rely on evidence from monitoring programs.
National: Existing studies use GAO or PCIE data, but we are not aware of current availability of such data.
State: Various state programs for addressing local government audit quality
Copley and Doucet (1993), Brown and Raghunandan (1995)

Deis and Giroux (1992),
O'Keefe et al. (1994)
Single audit Research has examined the relationship between Single Audit variables and audit fees, but little research has been performed on Single Audit outcomes. Data is available from the Federal Audit Clearinghouse at  
Auditor decisions Comparatively little research has been performed in this area, usually emphasizing materiality judgments. Research approach usually requires human subjects or data extracted from work papers. Berry et al. (1987)
O'Keefe et al. (1990)
  1. Listed papers are meant only to serve as examples and are not intended to be inclusive. Please accept our apologies for any significant research not cited.
  2. Related constructs include concepts such as auditor choice and audit delay. These dependent variables are often analyzed using simultaneous equations addressing other constructs such as audit quality.

B. Financial:

Topic Sources and Comments Examples
Disclosure Studies relate disclosure to regulation and other incentives.
Sources include participation in the Certificate of Excellence (COE) program and disclosure indices constructed from financial reports. The Government Finance Officers Association (Chicago), has information (no charge) concerning COE participation.
Evans and Patton (1983), Copley (1991), Ingram and DeJong (1987)
Gore (2000)
Financial data Studies examine the effect of financial information on creditor and voter decisions, and trends in financial data.
Sources include Census Bureau County and City Data Book and Survey of Government: Annual Financial Statistics. Some of this data is now available on Cd-rom and also from the U.S. Bureau of census website
Ingram and Copeland (1981)
Marks and Raman (1985)
Copley and Seay (1999)
Service Efforts The complexity of government accounting and reporting has resulted in calls for more useful information in the form of service efforts and accomplishments, and popular financial reports. Parry et al. (1994)

II. Charitable Organizations, Colleges and Universities, and other Not for Profits


Mary L. Fischer
University of Texas at Tyler
Janet S. Greenlee
University of Dayton
Karen Taranto
George Washington University
William R. Baber
George Washington University

A. National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) 990 database. Information on the databases and how to obtain the data can be found at the following URL:

Comments: The NCCS does not charge for academic purposes or for nonprofit use. NCCS is a data repository for all charitable organizations, and the database is designed for researchers. The data are reliable, fairly extensive in terms of the number of data items available, and go through error checks by the NCCS staff. The data are available through FTP once permission is granted. The nice thing about the NCCS data is that it is available in many different file formats: SAS, SPSS, MS Access, ASCII, and Excel. They are currently working on a project where 990s will be scanned and immediately converted to SAS format data files. This will allow up-to-the-minute data availability. It is anticipated that this feature will become available over the next few months.

B. Philanthropic Research, Inc. (Guidestar). Also publishes 990 data for all not-for-profits, private colleges and universities, accessed on a search form and available in pdf format:

Comments: The Guidestar pdf forms are available free of charge on the Internet. They are simply scanned images of the actual 990 tax form. They do, however, offer data in other forms at a charge. The website is user friendly, data appears reliable, and data can be obtained using the name of the organization.

C. The Federal Audit Clearing House for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Provides data on Circular A-133 audit reports for nonprofits receiving significant federal funding and can be accessed at: Extensive audit data is available from approximately 1998 onwards till 2001. The data source / files are however, voluminous and need extensive editing and cleaning.

D. National Association for College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). The website for this organization has linkages for financial information for Colleges and Public Universities. NACUBO also sells at nominal charge a dataset on two-year schools, the data going back up to 25 years. In addition NACUBO also sells data relating to endowments. This data is proprietary and information is "blind," i.e., it may not be possible to identify the organization for which the data pertains to.

E. The U.S. Department of Education — National Center for Educational Statistics. This center collects data from the Integrated Post-Secondary Educational Statistics (IPED) forms. The data while permitting downloads into EXCEL, is however not very user friendly.

III. Federal Government


James M. Patton
University of Pittsburgh

The following websites contain information relating to Federal Government Accounts and Finances.

A. (a broad-based portal to federal and other government data)

B. (the FASAB homepage)

C. (Office of Management and Budget)

D. (the general accounting office)

E. (the US department of treasury); Treasury also prepares the Consolidated Financial Report of the US Government

F. (the congressional budget office)

Experience with getting hard copies of federal agency financial reports is not good....most agencies don't print very many copies.

IV. Healthcare


Dana A. Forgione
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Kathryn J. Jervis
Roger Williams University

A. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) "Health Data 2002." The website is:

Comments: Format is CD-ROM that comes out annually . Contains more than 1,000 variables on 29 countries around the world. The variables include a wide variety of financial information and several alternative monetary conversion indexes dating from 1960-2001. The data is very high quality, probably among the best available in the world. The more recent years tend to have more complete data coverage than the older years.

The cost is about $200 per year.

B. Medicare

Comments: Voluminous data useful for healthcare research. The data includes detailed hospital cost report information, including financial statements, for 5,500+ hospitals. There is also data for at least 80,000 other providers, a large (masked) physician database, a large (masked) beneficiary database, a hospital case mix index file, and more. Costs range from free downloads, to a few dollars for a floppy disk or CD-ROM, to more than $1,000 for tapes, depending on the size of the database. The early years tended to have frequent data errors.

C. The World Health Organization (WHO):

Comments: Broad based data for health policy analysis in their Statistical Information System (WHOSIS). It offers a guide to health and health-related epidemiological and statistical information available from the WHO and provides links to many other major data sources. Most WHO technical programs make statistical information available that are linked from the website at: Cost, quality or format of the data available from this, or linked, sources is however, not known to the contact persons at this point.

D. National Association of Health Data Organizations (NAHDO)

Comments: This is the single most comprehensive source for healthcare databases. This organization can link users to hundreds of healthcare data sources, including governmental, Nonprofit and proprietary sources.

E. National Center for Health Statistics

Comments: Data available in Excel spreadsheet or Adobe Acrobat format. No charge. Contains national trends in health statistics on such topics as birth and death rates, infant mortality, life expectancy, risk factors, health personnel and facilities, financing of health care, health insurance and managed care, and other health topics.

F. State Health Information

  1. California Office of Statewide health Planning and Development
    Data available in Excel spreadsheet or Adobe Acrobat format. No charge. Contains hospital and other medical facilities annual disclosure reports

  2. Texas Department of Health
    Data available in Excel spreadsheet or Adobe Acrobat format. No charge. Annual survey of hospitals, hospital financial data, utilization data, and much more.

  3. Virginia health Information
    Data available in Excel spreadsheet or Adobe Acrobat format. Low cost for financial and administrative data (about $100). Other data such as inpatient level discharge, hospital and nursing facility cost and utilization, and facility demographic databases are available free.

V. Municipal Bonds / Public Finance


Jacqueline L. Reck
University of South Florida
Jayaraman Vijayakumar
Virginia Commonwealth University

A. Thomson Financial TM3 Website: Thomson Financial Municipals Group, P.O. Box 95968, Chicago, IL 60694 (however, I would make contact through the Internet Website - They will allow a free trial.)

Comments: $150 - $200 per month (this was negotiable). Provides new issue information for municipal bonds. Data extend from the current period back at least 10 years. Information is provided on issuer, type of debt issue, underwriter, interest cost, insurance, size of issue, number of bidders, size of the issuer, call provision. Some cusip availability.

There are only crude search mechanisms, which allow for the researcher to narrow times and type of offering for which the search is being conducted. Greater data availability occurs for more recent issues. Older issues do not have the same number of data fields available.

B. Bloomberg's Wire Service

Comments: Very expensive! $1,000–$1,200 per month (est.). This allows you to look for a specific municipal issue. It will provide CUSIPs for government bonds. It also provides some of the same information as TM3. This was so expensive, however, many brokers or financial service firms have this wire. Search is somewhat cumbersome. You must buy the full service, they won't sell just a portion related to bonds (or at least they wouldn't).

C. U.S. Census Bureau

Comments: Free. Pdf files. Provides financial data for states, counties (over 200,000 population) and municipalities (over 100,000 population). Currently data are available for 1991–1999. This is the census data that has been used in prior government research. Pdf files require manual data collection.

D. SDC Platinum Municipal New Issues Data base. Available from Thomson Financial Services.

Comments: Expensive. Will cost about $5000–6000 for one year subscription. However, if the university already subscribes to some other SDC data base, then municipal database is only about $1000–1500. Data for the last 15 years at least is fairly comprehensive. Lists practically every new municipal bond issue during this period and provides issue, market, and some issuer characteristics. However, no accounting data is provided. Easy to use and large volume of data can easily be downloaded fairly quickly. Data may require further cleaning / editing before use. Search features also available.

Sub-committee members / Area of Expertise

  1. Laurence E. Johnson (Colorado State University) and Randal J. Elder (Syracuse University) — Governmental Auditing and Accounting
  2. Mary L. Fischer (University of Texas at Tyler), and Janet S. Greenlee (Dayton University) — Colleges and Universities, Charitable Organizations, and other Not for Profits.*
  3. James M. Patton (University of Pittsburgh) — Federal Government
  4. Dana A. Forgione (The University of Texas at San Antonio) and Kathryn J. Jervis (Roger Williams University) — Health Care / Hospitals
  5. Jacqueline Reck (University of South Florida) and Jayaraman Vijayakumar (Virginia Commonwealth University) — Municipal Bonds and State and Local Government Finance / Accounting (We will also be talking with Gary Gireaux and Earl Wilson about this)
  6. Marc A. Rubin (Miami University) and William R. Baber (George Washington University) — Public Choice / Political Economy
  7. Jayaraman Vijayakumar (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Randal J. Elder (Syracuse University) — All other areas not elsewhere specified

* - Karen Taranto - George Washington University, also provided useful input for this area.

Sub-committee chair / co-chair: Jayaraman Vijayakumar (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Laurence E. Johnson (Colorado State University

President's Letter

I am honored to serve as the President of Government and Nonprofit (GNP) section of the American Accounting Association (AAA).  My first contact with the section occurred in 1996, when I received a doctoral student research grant, which started my healthcare research career.  This work could not have proceeded without the encouragement from people that I met in this section. I value the connections that I made over the years, the friendships that developed, and the very collegial support from the GNP ‘family’ that we all enjoy.

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Midyear Meeting

2018 Government and Nonprofit Section Midyear Meeting

The Government and Nonprofit (GNP) Section Midyear Meeting will be held March 9-10, 2018 at the Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel in Providence, RI. We welcome practical, pedagogical, and case-study papers on any government or nonprofit accounting research topic. Please submit your work by the deadline of 11:59PM on Wednesday, November 22, 2017.


GASB Gil Crain Grant

GASB Gil Crain Memorial Research Grant

Since its formation in 1984, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has encouraged academics and other researchers to conduct studies that would be relevant to the GASB’s standards-setting activities. Over the past 30 years, such research efforts have resulted in publishing their research in research briefs, journal articles, and occasionally in GASB research reports.

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