Applying the Equity Method as a means of Consolidation in the Public Sector: Experiences in OECD Countries

; ; ; (). Applying the Equity Method as a means of Consolidation in the Public Sector: Experiences in OECD Countries . European Group for Public Administration (EGPA), Edinburgh Scotland, 11-13.9.2013

Changes to the organizational composition of the public sector introduced by New Public Management-style reforms, leading to contracting-out and privatization in their various forms have led to an increased decentralisation of responsibilities in accounting in the public sector. These reforms have not only been done for the reasons of finding adequate forms of organizing public sector activities, but very often the in the German-speaking world used expression “escape out of the budget” was pursued for the purpose of hiding public debt.

It has now become widely accepted by those investigating financial reporting requirements in the public sector, that the consolidated financial statement (CFS) is a useful instrument for governments dealing with publicly-owned entities, because it presents a clear picture of the current economic status and functioning of the whole inter-related Group (Chow et al., 2007; Grossi and Newberry, 2009; Wise, 2010).

As in the private sector, also in the public sector a need for more harmonized accounting practices has arisen among countries. Maybe the best way to reach the aim of more harmonization of financial reports is to follow the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), issued by the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB), which provide rules for preparing both annual and consolidated financial statements. The IPSAS 6-8 suggest control as the leading criterion to define the scope of consolidation, and by operationalizing it adapt the concept for the specific characteristics of the public sector. With the rising importance of these single public sector accounting standards being used internationally, it can be expected that more and more countries also switch to the respective suggestions for CFS. But is it really this way? This paper therefore aims to answer the following research questions:

1. What is the state of CFS in OECD countries?
2. What consolidation methods are used?
3. Are they influenced in any way by the guiding principles to define the scope of consolidation or by the purpose CFS shall fulfil?
The aim of this paper is to give an overview of actual consolidation practices in OECD countries and to identify major trends in consolidated financial reporting. Therefore, the paper will be structured as follows: section two will give a literature review of different consolidation approaches and the specific needs in the public sector. In section 3, the research-design and terms and concepts of consolidation will be introduced. Section 4 will present findings, which will be summed up in the conclusion, while the floor for further research necessities is opened.