26 September 2023

New guide for PS finance statements

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The Auditor General has issued a new guide for the public sector, setting out the best ways to prepare financial statements.

Auditor General Caroline Spencer said the Better Practice Guide – Public Sector Financial Statements was relevant to all State and Local Government sectors.

“I am confident it will be a useful reference tool for public sector officers preparing and overseeing financial statements,” Ms Spencer said.

“Financial reporting and auditing are substantial elements of external accountability, but they are not ends in themselves. They inform decision-making, provide confidence to stakeholders and enable comparisons over time with similar entities and other jurisdictions.”

She said high quality financial statements were an indicator of good governance, supporting the three pillars of integrity, accountability and transparency.

“This guide supports entities in a practical sense to implement sound financial reporting arrangements to fulfil statutory obligations. It will also help make the annual audit process as smooth and cost-effective as possible,” Ms Spencer said.

“I recognise the challenge that exists in public sector financial reporting to balance the need for useful and reliable financial information in an increasingly complex sector with pressure to reduce costs and unnecessary compliance burdens.”

Consequently, she said, it had become critical that there be value in financial statements to stakeholders relative to costs of preparation without compromising on accuracy, reliability and meaningful disclosure.

“This practical guide and toolkit sets out better practice principles which, when applied, support a strong governance framework and an efficient and effective financial statement preparation process,” Ms Spencer said.

“The guide is not exhaustive and has no legislative or policy status. It is not intended to be prescriptive or obligatory.”

She said this guide was the second stand-alone better practice guide produced by her office, the first being better practice for public sector audit committees.

The Auditor General’s 85-page guide can be accessed at this PS News link.

The guide’s ‘team’ was Subha Gunalan.

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