IPSASB releases consultation paper on government reporting

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19 Oct 2012

The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) has published a Consultation Paper which aims to help reduce differences between Government Finance Statistics (GFS) reporting guidelines and International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs).

The Consultation Paper, IPSASs and Government Finance Statistics Reporting Guidelines, was developed by a task force that included representation from both the IPSASB and the statistical community, including the International Monetary Fund and Eurostat, and national representatives from Brazil, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Switzerland.

The paper outlines the two key types of financial information produced by Governments:

  • government finance statistics (GFS) on the general government sector (GGS) for the purpose of macroeconomic analysis and decision making, applying Government Finance Statistics (GFS) reporting guidelines
  • general purpose financial reports (GPFRs) for accountability and decision making at an entity level, including the whole of government reporting entity, prepared using IPSASs applicable to accrual based financial statements.

The paper asserts there is considerable overlap between these two reporting frameworks, but also provides an overview of differences between GFS reporting guidelines and IPSASs, and goes on to identify opportunities to reduce these differences.  These opportunities include:

  • potential changes to the IPSAS setting process, ranging from range from a positive commitment to avoid all unnecessary differences to inclusion of GFS comparisons in all IPSASs
  • possible IPSASB projects to reduce differences, e.g. 'reporting entity' definition, currency on issue, inventory measurement, defence weapons, measurement and financial statement presentation
  • the use of accounting information for GFS, only considering alternative sources of data, and alternative measurement approaches if the financial reporting data has clearly failed to address GFS issues
  • possible changes to measurement requirements under GFS, particularly the valuation of assets for which there is no active and liquid market, heritage assets and long-lived, specialised assets, for which market prices are unavailable.

The paper notes that using a single integrated financial information system can result in significant benefits, including reduction of GFS report preparation time, costs, and effort. Improvements are also likely to the source data for GFS reports, with flow-on benefits in terms of report quality.

The Consultation Paper is an important step toward more global acceptance and adoption of IPSAS and is open for comment until 31 March 2013.  Click for IPSASB press release (link to IFAC website).

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