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The Government Finance Research Center at the University of Illinois Chicago and Merritt Research Services, an Investortools Company just released this year’s audit timing report, Public vs. Private Auditors, Big vs. Little Issuers: What’s Influencing the Timeliness of Municipal Bond Audits. In this report, Richard A. Ciccarone and Deborah Carroll (as the report authors) first offer an overview of audit time trends since 2010. They then recognize the timeliest audits for the 2021 fiscal year, grouped by municipal credit sector, from more than 10,000 municipal bond issuers in the Merritt Research Services database found in CreditScope. Finally, they conduct correlational analysis and difference of means testing to examine some potential reasons for variation in audit timing in an effort to develop solutions for improvement where it might be needed.

Merritt Research Services has been providing municipal bond credit data and information on nearly 10,000 municipal bond issuers for institutional investors since 1986. Since 2010, Merritt Research Services has tracked the time it takes for issuers to complete their audits after the close of their fiscal year. Last year, Merritt Research Services partnered with the Government Finance Research Center for the first time to jointly issue this comprehensive annual report analyzing audit times among municipal bond issuers to acknowledge industry leaders who demonstrate best practices in debt management. The Government Finance Research Center at the University of Illinois Chicago is a leading, nationally recognized research center in the field of public finance. The center is dedicated to innovative and unbiased public finance research and education that provides technical assistance on how to make government work better and improve the fiscal health of our communities.

This joint effort between the Government Finance Research Center and Merritt Research Services aims to elevate the importance of timely audit reporting as an essential component of ‘best practice’ when it comes to public finance. Timely, transparent, and accessible financial information is essential for accurate credit evaluation and proper valuation of municipal bonds in the marketplace.