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Professional accounting standards and the public sector—a mismatch

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Professional accounting standards have been applied to the public sector in Australia as part of the process of adopting accrual accounting. However, the reason given for their application to the public sector is questionable. The modes of operation of governments and of the business sector are very different, and accounting standards must be tailored to suit the specific information needs of each sector for the accounting systems to provide relevant information. The four Accounting Concepts Statements and the broad requirements of AAS 29 and AAS 31 are examined to show where changes are needed in the standards to make their information more relevant to the needs of the public sector. These changes would better enable accrual accounting information systems to assist in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of public sector operations and the accountability of governments to parliament and citizens.
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Keywords: Public goods; Public sector accounting; Statements of Accounting Concepts

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Australian National University

Publication date: 2005-06-01

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