The Public Sector Accounting and Reporting program (“PULSAR”) is a new initiative to increase transparency, accountability, and better management of public resources in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, and Ukraine through the enhancement of public sector accounting (“PSA”) and financial reporting frameworks. PULSAR is financed by the Governments of Austria and Switzerland and is implemented by the World Bank.
The Financial Reporting Frameworks Community of Practice (FinCoP) has been established under Financial Reporting Frameworks Activity of the PULSAR Regional Program. The FinCoP includes practitioners from Ministries of Finance and Treasuries of beneficiary countries in charge of PSA development. Within the framework of the FinCoP, peer assisted learning face to face meetings will be organized once a year, and its working group meetings twice a year for practitioners, each dedicated to one or more specific topics, such as PSA roadmaps and strategies, public sector financial reporting frameworks and legislation/regulation, national standards based on IPSAS and EPSAS developments, and unified chart of accounts. Priority topics to commence knowledge sharing and work in the FinCoP will be agreed based on the preferences of PULSAR beneficiary countries and FinCoP individual members. Further, FinCoP will develop good practices and knowledge products in the area of PSA to respond to the practitioners’ challenges identified in strengthening PSA frameworks. These materials will be shared on an online repository to be developed for this purpose. Participants will regularly access the online repository and review updates on the reform progress undertaken in their respective countries.
FinCoP inaugural meeting was held at a workshop in Vienna on December 12 and 13, 2017.
The workshop reviewed the purpose, framework, and planned activities for the FinCoP.
Participants were informed that (i) the CoP has been established following nominations from Ministries of Finance and Treasuries of the beneficiary countries; (ii) that member countries as well as CoP members will be required to prioritize PSA topics of interest for working groups to be established; (iii) one CoP and one working group face to face meeting will each be organized on different topics every year; additionally virtual meetings, including webinars, will be organized on specific topics of interest; and (iv) knowledge products developed by these groups will be made available for wider dissemination.
In addition, as the enhancement of national accounting standards is an important area of focus for the FinCoP, the workshop considered latest developments in International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) as well as progress made towards the introduction of European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS). Further, participants discussed the reform challenges their countries face, their key priorities, as well as the factors that can cause PSA reform failure. They reviewed available sources of information on PSA good practices and knowledge products including diagnostic toolkits and assessment frameworks, technical notes, good practice guides, and other publications. The workshop also learnt about research conducted by the Comparative International Governmental Accounting Research (CIGAR) network into the roles of governments and of government officials in implementing PSA reforms. CIGAR’s analysis of budgeting, accounting and financial reporting, and auditing at each level of government in 14 European countries revealed a significant absence of uniformity. Participants agreed this highlighted the importance of developing and implementing clear and comprehensive national strategies for PSA reforms.
The workshop concluded with discussion of the next steps for the FinCoP, including agreement on topics to be addressed such as training and updates on IPSAS/Government Finance Statistics reporting and benchmarking PSA amongst PULSAR countries.
The outcomes of the FinCoP meeting were as follows:
- FinCoP priority topics were identified and ranked in order of importance by participants, and initial indicative work program was developed.
- Participants also identified their preferences as to how these priorities should be delivered.
- Participants established existing PSA knowledge products and good practices, and identified gaps which needed to be addressed. A prioritized list of knowledge products and good practice guides was prepared.
- The format and speakers for the next event, to be held in the week of April 23 in Vienna, was discussed and agreed.