In June 1910, government accounting practices were still in their infancy. Charles Gettemy, director of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics, wrote an article for The American City that month outlining the importance of accurately recording and reporting government income and spending to demonstrate to taxpayers that funds were being used appropriately.

The author identifies Ohio as the first state to establish uniform rules for local government financial reports in 1902. At the time of Gettemy's article, Massachusetts was instituting similar rules. The state had passed a financial reporting law in 1906, but it only required cities to submit their reports to the state at the same time. It left it up to cities to determine how they would organize their information, which created tremendous work for Gettemy's office in compiling statewide statistics. In calling for accounting reform, Gettemy emphasized that the goal is to better inform the public about their government.

To complement Gettemy's article, Everett Mero (title not specified) wrote an article in the same issue describing the surprisingly inept financial reports local governments habitually issued. He cited one auditor's note on a city's financial report that stated, "This schedule shows approximately the financial condition of the town if its bills were all paid and all moneys due it were collected." Mero also described a presentation Gettemy prepared for the public the previous winter that demonstrated the problems that inconsistent and inaccurate government financial reports created. In it, Gettemy displayed a page from a town report in which appeared the entry, "City of Lynn, don't know what for, $15."

There was a time, Mero wrote, when city officials thought it was no business of the state, and still less of any other city's officials, how a city spent its money. "The idea of applying to municipal affairs up-to-date business methods of keeping financial records is a matter of comparatively recent development," he wrote.

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