rize, and report any information they desire, conditional only on the usual benefit/ cost and other feasibility constraints. Most of the decisions about what information will be captured by the accounting system (other than that mandated by regulatory bodies) will be made by managers and other agencies outside of the accounting department.
A subset of the managerial information collected is provided to outsiders, for example, investors, creditors, and others. Such information frequently includes voluntary disclosure of information that management may, for a variety of reasons, desire to make public. However, the greatest portion of publicly available firm-specific financial information is provided under the requirements of the two accounting rule-making bodies, namely, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The FASB is the private accounting rule-making organization that provides guidelines for the public accounting profession. The SEC has the mandate of the United States Congress to oversee disclosure of financial accounting information for use in the equity and debt securities markets.
For a variety of reasons, including the pressure of competition and potential information overload by users, public disclosure of financial information is necessarily in a highly aggregated form. The information is designed to address questions of the profitability, riskiness, and viability of a firm, taken as a whole, rather than individual product profitability. Thus, the financial accounting rules do not require the collection and summarization of the finely detailed product cost information necessary to provide a basis for managers' environmental cost-reduction decisions.
Regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are concerned with the quality of the environment and waste minimization to enhance that quality, rather than issues of profitability. The EPA seeks, through the use of persuasion, negotiation, and regulatory tools, to measure and reduce waste emissions and effluents as well as to monitor remediation of past and current waste disposal sites. Thus, the regulatory focus is largely on the end-of-pipeline emissions and substantially less on the individual products and processes that produce the wastes, the ultimate point of control for managers. That is, the EPA and similar agencies are not in the business of micromanaging the product and process decisions of firms, but rather define the constraints under which such decisions will be made.