As reported in the Introduction to this site, there are approximately 83,000 governments and government-like entities in the U.S. We can only start you at the State, county, township, and/or city level. From there you will have to do some digging and ask questions.

Here is a step-by-step approach that I use to attempt to locate and obtain Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) for cities, counties and States.

1. I usually start with the following government website:

I type in the name of the school district, city, county and/or State in a search engine.

I locate the official website of the government.

2. Now this is where the search begins.

a. If the government web site has a Search function, then type in "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report" and search the site for this document. If found then you can download the CAFR onto your hard drive and review it at your leisure, print out certain pages and have available for future use in the event you are not now ready to review the CAFR.

b. If the above search is either not available or does not take you to the governments CAFR, then

1) For a State-level CAFR look in the Statewide Offices and/or Executive Branch categories shown above. Look for a financial department such as Treasurer, Finance, Finance and Accounting, etc. Usually the CAFR is found in a reporting section. Sometimes the department will have its own Search function. If so, then again type in "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report".

2) If you are looking for a city or county CAFR, then go to the list of departments and look for a financial department such as Treasurer, Finance, Finance and Accounting, etc. You are interested in the reports section. Sometimes the department will have its own Search function. If so, then again type in "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report".

c. If the above are unproductive, then consider sending an email/letter to one of the financial departments/agencies of the government you are interested in and ask them:

1) Whether their CAFR is on-line. if so at what address can it be accessed.

2) If the CAFR is not on line, then ask how you can obtain a copy.

3) Here is an email/letter that I use to ask about the governments CAFR. You can highlight this email with your mouse or keyboard, copy it to the clipboard, and then paste it to a New Message in your email program or to your word processing program.

"SUBJECT: [Name of government] Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)

I request a copy of [government name] FY 2002 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The copy requested is a copy of the original report prepared in compliance with the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 34 - 'Basic Financial Statements.' and audited by either an AICPA firm or internal auditors. If you submit your CAFR to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) , then the copy I request is the CAFR report of that submission, which should be the same as the GASB prepared CAFR previously described."

In case you do not have a financial document called the CAFR, the document I request is an annual financial statement that:

Presents a comprehensive picture of a government's financial condition by combining the annual financial reports of all government agencies and universities.

Provides information on all government funds including those held outside the government treasury.

Presents information on the accrual basis recognizing amounts owed by the government but not paid at the end of the fiscal year, as well as amounts due to the government but not received by the end of the fiscal year.

Contains information on real property and other fixed assets, long-term obligations or investments held outside the government treasury; and

Includes statistical and some economic data.

If the document is currently on your web site, please provide the address so I can access and download the document.

If the document is not on your web site, please advise how I can obtain a copy.

Your assistance regarding my request will be appreciated.


City, State, ZIP]
[Email address]"

The above steps have helped me obtain over 300 CAFRs. Hopefully, it will help you.

As a note, I have found, in every case, the government employees to be very helpful in trying to get a copy of the CAFR to me. Now, sometimes they did not always know what document I was referring to because, as stated on the site, many government employees have never heard of or seen a CAFR. It is not a secret document, but definitely is not a well known document. Strange as it sounds, even some politicians have never seen their governments CAFR. Some government employees who did not know of the CAFR, would email me two or more days later and say something like "Eureka, we found it!" They would then send a copy to me. Be patient and understanding.