The Permanent Study Group XII Public Sector Financial Management, part of the European Group for Public Administration (EGPA), is an intellectual platform devoted to the study of 'Public Sector Financial Management'. The overall objective of the Study Group is to provide a forum for scholars and practitioners to present, discuss and debate their research, findings and ideas about innovative approaches to, and tools used in, Public Sector Financial Management (PFM). It also highlights and compares experiences of established systems, or systems that are still under trial in European and non-European countries. The Study Group convenes twice a year in order to create a network of close collaboration among its participants. These meetings give participants the opportunity to highlight and compare experiences of innovations in PFM, in order to define both theoretical structures and their practical implementation to deal with financial sustainability and financial distress in public sector organisations.
The theme of this workshop aims to discuss about the challenges and opportunities facing public sector financial management and reporting.
Public sector financial management involves the effective management of the governments’ funds collection and expenditure. As societal needs are inevitably greater than the resources available to governments, all public resources must be used as efficiently as possible with a minimum of government wastage. Accounting and financial reporting is aimed at providing objective, neutral and up to date information about the performance of government units, the allocation of entrusted resources, and the creation of obligations. This is further accompanied by challenges of financial and non-financial reporting by public sector entities in the changing user needs environment.
The Covid-19 crisis has been a catalyst for changes in the landscape of public sector financial management and has posed further and new challenges to public sector (governmental) entities. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of having strong accounting systems for discharging accountability in the public sector and assisting politicians and managers in making better decisions. In addition, there is a challenge in responding to the changing and growing information user needs in the public sector. That challenge is widely acknowledged as of high interest to researchers and the wider audience of professionals and regulators (standard setters) focusing on the harmonization of public sector entities’ reporting.
To that end, European Commission has been engaged in the convergence and harmonization of the accounting and financial reporting systems of EU Member States. Another emerging challenge for public sector reporting is non-financial and sustainability reporting. Although it is perceived as crucial, it is still insufficiently explored and practised.
The public sector, by its nature, providing essential public services to the public such as health and education, has also a critical role in achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). The achievement of the SDGs can be stimulated by informing and animating citizens to adopt the appropriate practice and cooperate. This is where adequate information is critical. Therefore, different current alternatives in non-financial reporting are of interest to policymakers and regulators.
Although non-financial performance reporting in several forms has already been considered as part of the public sector entities’ annual reports in various jurisdictions, both non-financial reporting and integrated reporting still represent a new and significant challenge for public sector entities. Therefore, there is a need to further research the interface of integrated reporting, sustainability reporting, and other non-financial information reporting. Exploring approaches and initiatives around non-financial information reporting by public sector entities, including the issuance of the integrated reporting guidelines and standards, as well as sustainability reporting standards for public sector entities is timely and essential.
Another frontier for public sector management and reporting is digitization. Digitization of public sector financial management processes has seen accelerated progress in the past year, aiming to ensure efficiency during times of crises. It has brought with it many changes worldwide, especially in those fields where information technology is indispensable. The accounting profession is a field where digital transformations are making profound effects. Yet, there is still much room left to explore the effects of digital transformation and challenges for accounting (data producers), decision-making (data users), and accountability (data reporting), especially so when it comes to public sector accounting, reporting, and management.
In line with this, this is a Call for Papers inviting authors interested in participating in the 2023 EGPA PSG XII PSFM 2023 Workshop to present papers on the following indicative topics:
The role of accounting and financial reporting in budgeting and public spending decision-making;
Accounting and financial reporting integration in the public sector financial management processes (i.e. accountable and sustainable decision-making of public management and political structures);
Accounting information and financial reporting for assessing fiscal responsibility and sustainability in public spending and public resources management (i.e. public sector asset management activities);
Accounting and reporting frameworks for monitoring the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic and the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine
Sustainable development reporting by public sector reporting entities
Challenges of financial and non-financial reporting by public sector entities in the changing user needs environment;
Exploring the harmonization of financial reporting at the EU and international level;
Use and usefulness of financial statements: how to reduce the gap between the expected and actual use;
Investigating the needs for non-financial reporting, the framework of non-financial reporting, and other forms of reporting to meet the information users' needs;
Purpose, role, opportunities, and use of non-financial information and the development of various forms of reporting (the interface of integrated reporting, sustainability reporting, and other non-financial information reporting);
Effects of digitization on financial and non-financial reporting, decision making and accountability in the public sector: opportunities and challenges.