Jan Sylvis served on the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) for ten years from July 2007 through June 2017 and was named GASB Vice Chair in January 2015. Prior to her GASB Vice Chair activities, she served for 19 years as the State of Tennessee Chief of Accounts, performing the controller functions for TN state government. Ms. Sylvis began her 37-year Tennessee State Government career in the Comptroller’s Office serving in various audit roles from entry-level auditor to assistant director, auditing colleges, universities, state agencies, computer systems and financing authorities. She moved to the executive branch and then served as the Director of Audit & Consulting for the TN Department of Finance and Administration, performing the internal audit function for the department and providing consulting services to other state agencies.
During her tenure at the GASB, Ms. Sylvis was involved in establishing certain standards which have had significant impacts on governmental financial reporting. Specifically, the current standards for reporting pension and other post-employment benefits liabilities bring new transparency to the benefit promises made to government employees. Other standards, which she considers will continue to be important to government financial reporting, include the standards for service concession arrangements, Chapter 9 bankruptcies, tax abatements, investment pools, fiduciary activities and leases. Also, as Vice Chair, Ms. Sylvis worked on board outreach activities to enhance communication with stakeholder groups, encouraging preparers, auditors and users to provide feedback during deliberations, which improves final standards.
Significant accomplishments of her career as TN Chief of Accounts include the successful implementation of an entity-wide integrated system replacing significant back office legacy systems for accounting, payroll, purchasing and human resources, some of which were over 30 years old. Ms. Sylvis also provided leadership for the State’s website and open records site, the establishment of an accounting shared- services organization for small state agencies and an effort to centralize all accounting staff within the State of Tennessee for consistency and efficiency in accounting for state operations. She was instrumental in raising awareness and subsequently funding for the establishment of higher employment standards for Tennessee departmental controllers, which required them to be CPAs with requisite experience.
She is a past president of the National Association of State Comptrollers and also a past president of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers. In both organizations, Ms. Sylvis served on various committees, including their executive committees. As a member of the American Institute of CPAs, she has served on its Government and Not-For-Profit Expert Panel. Ms. Sylvis’ service and leadership in government finance and related organizations has been acknowledged with numerous awards, including the NASC Louis L. Goldstein Award in 2017, the 2012 NASC Distinguished Service Award, the national Association of Government Accountants (AGA) William R. Snodgrass Award in 2014, as well as its Frank L. Greathouse Award in 2002.