because it allowed politicians to report using either GFS or GAAP to achieve

Because it allowed politicians to report using either

This preview shows page 186 - 189 out of 354 pages.

because it allowed politicians to report using either GFS or GAAP, to achieve the results that suited them . This was referred to as ‘headline’ 46 (FRC Interview 06/05/2010, FRC, Interview 03/10/2010, HoTs Interview 17/11/2010, PE C Interview 09/03/2010) or ‘presentation shopping’ (Challen and Jeffrey 2003, p. 50). 46 While Challen and Jeffrey refer to ‘presentation shopping’ in their 2003 paper, the respective interviewees referred to ‘headline’ shopping ‘choosing of headline measures’. They all referred to the practice that politicians would select numbers from either GFS or GAAP to suit their purposes.
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173 Furthermore, GFS statements were not audited and the GAAP based financial statements were not comparable across jurisdictions or with the GFS based budget papers. GAAP/GFS harmonisation was a solution to these issues: “Harmonisation will reduce confusion about which set of financial reports presents a more reliable portrayal of financial results, improve transparency, remove opportunities for governments to choose how they present their budgets and their outcome financial statements, and improve the quality of the key financial statements of government by permitting them to be audited. As a corollary, if the key outcome statement is subject to audit and is directly comparable with the budget statements, there is a strong incentive for jurisdictions to improve the quality of the information contained in the budget statements.” (Challen and Jeffery 2003, p. 50) The paper by Challen and Jeffrey portrays GAAP/GFS harmonisation as a rational and logical policy solution to a number of normative and cognitive (technical) problems. This chapter challenges this ‘clean picture’ and aims to illuminate the complexities of the GAAP/GFS harmonisation agenda setting process in more detail. It is argued that GAAP and GFS reporting were regarded as two distinct reporting regimes until about 1999. Many issues that dominated public sector accounting discussions were not associated with the co-existence of GAAP and GFS. It is further argued that ‘GAAP/GFS harmonisation’ was identified and framed as a policy solution by bureaucrats within the Federal Departments of Treasury (Treasury) and Finance and Administration (Finance). The structure of this chapter is based on the discursive agenda setting framework (DASF) developed in Chapter 4. It integra tes Kingdon’s (1984, 2011) multiple s treams (MS) framework and Schmidt’s (2008, 2010, 2011a, b) discursive institutionalism (DI ), as well as Haas’ (1992) concept of epistemic communities. A diagrammatic presentation of the DASF is reproduced in Figure 7.1.
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174 Figure 7.1: The Discursive Agenda Setting Framework DASF Section 7.2 of this chapter considers the historical institutional context of public sector accounting in Australia from 1991, when the Loan Council decided to adopt the Uniform Presentation Framework (UPF) based on Government Finance Statistics (GFS) for budget documentation, until 1999, when GAAP/GFS Harmonisation was identified as a policy solution.
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  • Government, The Land, International Financial Reporting Standards, Financial Accounting Standards Board, Australian Accounting Standards Board, Snow

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