Railroad Finance

By Frederick A. Cleveland; Fred Wilbur Powell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
ACCOUNTS AND STATISTICS

The need for accounts is a need for information. With the development of a complex system of railroad organization and operation there arose the need for a department which, while itself handling no moneys, might account for the revenues of the corporation, prove the fidelity of those charged with collections and disbursements, and collect and present the data which is needed by the management. The trustees have special need for some agency which may report the result of administrative policies and the efficiency of operative officials. Furthermore, it has been found necessary to have an office of records and accounts which can prepare any statement required by administrative officials, either as a guide to management or as a report to the board and to shareholders and governmental autliorities.

Development of the Accounting Department. -- Railroad accounts were originally kept by the various departments. Freight agents balanced their accounts against each other before reporting to the general bookkeeper, who entered the final results of all subsidiary accounts in the general books of the company. There was no attempt at the preparation of statistics or of comparative statements, and the directors had for their guidance only the figures representing gross earnings, expenditures, and net income. In some companies the bookkeeper was subordinate to the general manager, in others to the secretary; in others, as in the New York Central, the treasurer was in control of the accounts; in fact, at one time or another in the history of the various companies this was the common organiza-

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