U.S. Department of Commerce

Federal, State, and Local Governments
Governments Finance and Employment Classification Manual
Chapter 1: Introduction to the Governments Finance and Employment Classification Manual

(December 2000)

This version of the Governments Finance and Employment Classification Manual is being issued to increase the accessibility and usefulness of the document, as well as to clarify classification issues that have arisen since the last issuance in June, 1992.

The primary changes to the Classification Manual involve reformatting and restructuring, intended to facilitate its release via the Internet.  These changes are intended to make the document significantly more user-friendly. This is especially true for the viewable version of the Classification Manual that is accessed via the Governments Division’s Internet web pages. This latest version also will enable easier and more timely updates to cover topical classification issues.  The following are included among these types of changes:

·        Conversion of the viewable document from text format to “html” format.

·        Introduction of list boxes to provide readers with direct links to function codes and definitions.

·        Addition of the complete set of reference tables and charts, not previously contained in the viewable version of the Classification Manual.

·        New navigational applications, such as hyper-links, to ease navigation through the document for purposes of finding function code definitions, tables, and examples.

This version of the Classification Manual contains only limited changes to subject content. The basic classification system for government finance and employment statistics, first developed and used in 1952, remains fully intact. The original Classification Manual was reissued periodically subsequent to that first edition in 1952. These other editions were released in 1976, 1981, and 1992. Of all the editions, this year 2001 version contains the fewest number of substantive changes to classifications and definitions applied in the Census of Governments and related surveys.

Changes to the classification system that have occurred since 1992 are summarized below.  They reflect responses to changing statistical needs – including those of the primary users of Governments Division data, which are other Federal statistical agencies:

·        Expansion of classification detail in the area of insurance trust system assets to include measures of international investments.

·        Expansion of classification detail in the area of insurance trust system assets to include regular measurement of employee retirement system assets at both book value (cost) and market value.

·        A classification category for a government’s contribution (subsidy) to its own transit system.

·        An “exhibit” item category for identifying the substantial amounts of money emanating from the Tobacco Lawsuit Settlement.

·        Removal of classification categories and references that are no longer applicable.  These pertain to the Federal Government finances, since those components of the Census of Governments and the annual finance surveys are no longer conducted as part of the Governments Division’s statistical program.

·        Inclusion of, and updating of references to, specific popular programs that have undergone name title changes.       

It is important to note that this Classification Manual does not cover every facet of Governments Division's statistical programs.  Several programs are excluded from the descriptions because they are conducted for other Federal statistical agencies.  If these surveys pertain to state and local government finances or employment, they often follow the basic definitions and classifications described in this Classification manual.  However, the choices of statistical categories and definitions used are ultimately decided upon by the sponsoring agency.  Other Governments Division programs exist to meet particular administrative or regulatory objectives, such as those conducted to measure or track Federal Government financial activity.  Users can consult the Governments Division’s primary web page for information about these programs, or refer to the report “Programs of the Governments Division,” issued periodically.   The Internet web address is:


Specific programs not covered in this Classification Manual include the following:

·        Taxable Property Values Phase of the Census of Governments

·        Federal Audit Clearinghouse

·        Consolidated Federal Funds Report

·        Federal Assistance Awards Data System

·        Public School System Finances

·        Special surveys on government criminal justice activities conducted on behalf of the U. S. Department of Justice

·        Various surveys of public libraries conducted for the U. S. Department of Education

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division
Created: November 16 2000
Last revised: May 22 2013