The 10th annual OECD public sector accruals symposium was held on 8-9 March 2010 in Paris. The meeting was chaired by Ian Mackintosh, Chair of the Accounting Standards Board, United Kingdom.
Monday 8 March 2010
Report by the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB)
This session was designed to update delegates on developments with regard to International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). It provided a progress report on the Board’s ongoing work on promulgating standards as well as discussing the Board’s overall strategy and work programme.
Report by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB)
This session was designed to update delegates on developments with regard to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and their possible implications for the public sector.
Report by the United States Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB)
This session was designed to update delegates on developments with regard to United States Federal Accounting Standards. It provided a progress report on the Board’s ongoing work on promulgating standards as well as discussing the Board’s overall strategy and work programme.
Reports on specific developments in individual countries - Australia, Austria, Germany, Korea, United Kingdom
This session was designed for delegates to make presentations on specific accrual developments in their respective countries, allowing participants to exchange information on recent reforms which are taking place and providing a useful opportunity for delegates to keep up to date with developments.
Different views on the use of accrual budgeting: perspectives from the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland
Whether to adopt accrual budgeting has been discussed extensively in recent years. The objective of this session was to move beyond a general discussion and to focus on the specific advantages and disadvantages of accrual budgeting based on practical experiences and applied research.
Two countries recently reached very different decisions in regards to adopting accrual budgeting. Switzerland embraced full accrual budgeting whereas the Netherlands rejected full accrual budgeting. Both countries did so after extensive research and dialogue with managers, ministers, members of parliament and other users of budget information. Presentations were given by both countries to launch the discussion.
New Zealand also highlighted the continued role and importance of cash in its accrual appropriation framework.
Reporting on long-term fiscal sustainability
The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board has an ongoing project dedicated to reporting on long-term fiscal sustainability. The OECD has worked closely with IPSASB on this project, as have a number of OECD countries and other international organisations.
This session provided an overview of the project and key issues being considered, including: definitions; the reporting entity for long-term fiscal sustainability reporting; time horizons; regularity of reporting; assumptions and sensitivity of assumptions; approach to discretionary programmes; and scope in terms of governmental programmes. (Presentations by IFAC, United States, United Kingdom)
Tuesday 9 March 2010
Performance reporting in the public sector
Performance reporting in the public sector is taking on ever greater importance as governments continue to shift their focus from inputs to performance and results. This session focused on the form and content of such performance reports and how they relate to the financial reports of government. The session discussed key measurement issues for outcomes and outputs as well as the costing of specific outcomes and outputs. It also discussed the relationship between whole-of-government performance reporting and agency-specific performance reporting and the consistency of such reports more broadly.
Canada has been very active in this area. It produces an annual whole-of-government report (Canada's Performance) which serves as a companion piece to agency-specific departmental performance reports. It describes the federal government's contribution to Canada's performance as a nation, and details how departments and agencies have contributed to the government's goals. Presentation by Canada.
Sovereign balance sheets and accounting for the fiscal response to the global financial crisis
At last year’s meeting, a session was devoted to accounting for the fiscal response to the global financial crisis, recognising that how these transactions are recorded is key to ensuring transparency and accountability. The discussion revealed that these transactions were often reported separately, as there was no single reporting entity encompassing the various institutions involved.
In response, the International Monetary Fund has developed the concept of sovereign balance sheets. This concept is based on the idea that the government should take a comprehensive view of all the resources available to it, and manage them strategically, taking into account their combined implications. This would include budgetary central government, other central government agencies including sovereign wealth funds and pension funds, subnational governments, the central bank, and state enterprises (both financial and non-financial). It should be emphasised that this is an analytical tool and is not designed to compromise the institutional independence of any component of the sovereign balance sheet.
At last year’s meeting, a number of countries indicated that the accounting treatment for certain transactions had not been finalised at that time, as their government’s annual financial statements were not ready. This session was also an opportunity for delegates to provide updates in this respect. (Presentation by Marco Cangiano, IMF).
Roundtable on the treatment of specific emerging accounting issues
This session was designed for delegates to identify specific emerging accounting issues of concern in their respective countries, and for other countries to comment on the issue and share their experiences and practices.
Wednesday 10 March 2010
After the accruals symposium, a one-day joint seminar on the long-term sustainability of public finances was organised by the OECD and the IPSASB.