Financial reporting standards for the public sector: New Zealand's 21st-century experience

  • Carolyn J. Cordery, Kevin Simpkins
  • Public Money & Management, February 2016, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/09540962.2016.1133979

Public sector accounting standards development

What is it about?

As a country that produced the world's first state accrual general purpose financial reports, New Zealand has often been put in the financial reporting spotlight. This paper analyses the three stages of the development of financial reporting standards for the public sector. For almost two decades sector/transaction neutrality was prized to the extent that the standards were the same as those developed for the private sector. The new strategy finalised in 2012 to adapt International Public Sector Accounting Standards in New Zealand represented a break with that tradition. We trace the pressures and support for that change

Why is it important?

The debate as to whether standards for the public sector should be different from or the same as for-profit standards continues to rage and different jurisdictions take different views. This paper highlights user needs as the underlying reason for the change to IPSAS in New Zealand. It challenges pre-conceptions about the 'right' standards for the public sector.


Professor Carolyn J Cordery
Aston University

Professor Kevin Simpkins was a thoughtful and hardworking standard setter, auditor, teacher and friend who was instrumental in the changes discussed in this paper. This journal issue contains an obituary as he unfortunately passed away prior to the publication of the paper. He is sadly missed.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Carolyn J Cordery