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

See all articles by Tyrone M. Carlin

Tyrone M. Carlin

Southern Cross University; The University of Sydney Business School

Date Written: November 2003

Abstract

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

Carlin, Tyrone M., Accrual Accounting & Financial Reporting in the Public Sector: Reframing the Debate (November 2003). MGSM Working Paper Series No. WP 2003-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=473643 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.473643

Tyrone M. Carlin (Contact Author)

Southern Cross University ( email )

Lismore, New South Wales 2480
Australia

The University of Sydney Business School ( email )

Cnr. of Codrington and Rose Streets
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
+ 61 2 9036 7230 (Phone)
+61 2 9351 7471 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://sydney.edu.au/business/staff/tyronec

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