Accrual Accounting & Financial Reporting in the Public Sector: Reframing the Debate
MGSM Working Paper Series No. WP 2003-22
52 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2003
Date Written: November 2003
Over the past decade, the governments of a growing number of jurisdictions throughout the world have elected to implement accrual accounting and financial reporting as the basis for their reformed financial management architectures. This phenomenon has been widely debated in public management circles, and within the academic literature. Many of these debates however, have been arid and narrowly technically focused. A growing quantity of empirical evidence drawn from jurisdictions where accrual accounting and financial reporting has already been implemented within the public sector is providing a new avenue for research in this area. This paper reviews both the previous debates surrounding the adoption of accrual accounting and reporting in the public sector, argues for a reframed approach to debates about the impact of this type of reform, and reports evidence that far from having an exclusively positive impact on the quality of financial decision making in a public sector context, the adoption of accrual accounting and financial reporting may in fact be undermining the quality of certain key decisions, including those related to outsourcing and competitive tendering.
Keywords: Accrual Accounting & Financial Reporting, New Public Financial Management
JEL Classification: M41, M44, M48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation