The Accountability Cycle - Annual Report

Description:
The annual report is a summary of Band and program-specific activities, financial information, past year's accomplishments, and goals for upcoming fiscal year. It is prepared as the primary accountability report for the community members. Copies are also provided to governments, funding agencies, and others as required. (see Sample Table of Contents)

Purpose:
The Annual Report, produced by senior administration (including Directors, Band Manager, and the Financial Controller), is a chance to show the community, in writing, all that has been accomplished over the fiscal year. It is an important example of disclosure and transparency in the activities of the Band Council and its programs and is the key public accountability document.

The Annual Report is a summary of the main planning and accountability elements. The audit summary forms an important component of the Annual Report. In addition, the Annual Report summarizes the significant achievements and challenges faced by each program and then outlines objectives for the upcoming year.

Considerations:
The Annual Report can be an important document to ensure accountability for the year under review, while at the same time laying the groundwork for next year's planning. It is a public document and is the main report from Band Council and staff for community members. As such, it needs to be concise and easy to read. It is useful to include easy to understand graphics and tables to display financial information, rather than relying on difficult and lengthy spreadsheets.

The key to developing an effective Annual Report that people will read, is to make it visually attractive, easy to understand and have it contain relevant and timely information. Using charts to show trends over several years is very useful.

Process:
There is a wide variety of information that can be included in an annual report. Some of this information will include:

  • Mission and vision
    A reiteration of the community's vision and the Band Council's mission statement.

  • Demographic information
    Population of the community by age, on/off reserve numbers (if applicable), number of students in school and graduating, employment numbers, etc. These number can be gleaned from nominal rolls in the Band Office or at INAC.

  • Priorities or mandate
    These are pulled directly from the priorities and mandate established at the beginning of the fiscal year.

  • Goals and objectives
    The fiscal year's goals and objectives listed.

  • Program reports
    These reports are basically the Directors' year-end reports made to Council. The written version should summarize issues and include recommendations made by Council. (See Sample Program Presentations for report format.)

  • Achievements
    A description of the achievements related to above goals and objectives.

  • Goals for next year
    Identification of goals for the current fiscal year.

  • Financial summary
    Summary of revenues and expenditures by program.

  • Audit summary
    Prepared by the auditor.
(see Sample Program Presentations)

Production
The collection of material for the Annual Report is led by the Band Manager. Many First Nations will engage an external professional to produce the Annual Report but it can be done in-house. Someone with excellent writing and word processing skills should be appointed by the Band Manager to compile and edit the information in a report format. A key decision for the Annual Report will be deciding what language the report will use. An English or French version will be required for external use, but many First Nations also produce a version in their Native language for internal use and as a symbol of their commitment to the preservation of mother tongue. In most cases, the English or French version is completed and then translated.

As emphasized earlier, a visually attractive Annual Report will encourage people to read the report; a simply worded one will help people to understand its contents. Colour certainly adds to this attractiveness but there is a cost factor that the Band must consider. Including pictures of Chief and Councillors, Band Staff, as well as photos of significant events over the year will contribute to the overall impact of the report.

Printing
Production of the Annual Report may be done in house or by a printing company. The desired impact of the Annual Report and the cost of production must be addressed. In either case, an adequate number of copies should be made available to the community prior to and during the Annual General Meeting.