An Examination of the Content of Community Financial Reports in Queensland Local Government Authorities
28 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2008
Annual reports, including general purpose financial statements, have been adopted as a key mechanism by which public sector entities discharge their accountability. However, there is concern about the complexity of public sector general purpose financial statements and consequently their effectiveness as an accountability mechanism. In Australia, the Queensland government has moved to address this issue in local government authorities by introducing a Community Financial Report as a means of simplifying the financial statements. A feature of this initiative was the lack of prescription given to local government authorities in the preparation of this report. This paper examines the form and content included in Community Financial Reports and also uses a disclosure index to determine the level of disclosure in the reports. The results of this research show that the form and content of the Community Financial Reports varied considerably. There was no definitive style, with each report being unique. The disclosure index revealed low levels of disclosure by local government authorities in the first year of the report as well as a lack of analysis of the Statements of Financial Performance, Position and Cash Flows. As well, there was a significant difference in the disclosures made by rural local government authorities compared with urban local government authorities. The results of this research will be of interest to local government authorities and local government regulators as they aim to provide useful, understandable information for stakeholders.
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