Public Sector Conceptual Framework
Final Chapters of Phase 1 published on January 11, 2013:
Chapter 1: Role and Authority of the Conceptual Framework
Chapter 2: Objectives and Users of General Purpose Financial Reporting
Chapter 3: Qualitative Characteristics
Chapter 4: Reporting Entity
Exposure Draft 1 - Phase 1 Conceptual Framework for General Purpose Financial Reporting by Public Sector Entities: Role, Authority and Scope; Objectives and Users; Qualitative Characteristics; and Reporting Entity (CF–ED1) published with a comment date of June 15, 2011.
Consultation Paper - Phase 4 Conceptual Framework for General Purpose Financial Reporting by Public Sector Entities: Presentation in General Purpose Financial Reports (CF–CP4) published with a comment date of May 31, 2012. These Consultation Papers were accompanied by At a Glance summaries.
Exposure Draft - Key Characteristics of the Public sector with Potential Implications for Financial Reporting published with a comment date of August 31, 2011.
The IPSASB is leading a collaborative project, with participation from a group of national standards setters and other organizations (NSS) which develop authoritative requirements for financial reporting in the public sector.
Objective(s) of project
The objective of the project is to develop a Public Sector Conceptual Framework which is applicable to the preparation and presentation of general purpose financial reports of public sector entities. General purpose financial reports include, but are not necessarily limited to, financial statements and notes thereto.
The Public Sector Conceptual Framework will be developed primarily for all public sector entities other than Government Business Enterprises (GBEs).
GBEs are required to apply International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) which are issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).
Currently the concepts related to public sector financial statements are embedded in the existing IPSASs.
Many of the IPSASs currently on issue are based on International Accounting Standards (IASs/IFRSs) to the extent that the requirements of the IASs/IFRSs are relevant to the public sector. Therefore, the current IPSASs draw on concepts and definitions in the IASB Framework with modifications where necessary to address public sector circumstances.
The IASB is currently updating its Framework in a joint project with the Financial Accounting Standards Board of the USA. The IPSASB is monitoring progress on that project and lead authors of IPSASB project components liaise with their IASB/FASB counterparts.
The Framework will deal with financial reporting under the accrual basis and encompass such matters as:
- Objectives of financial reporting;
- Scope of financial reporting;
- Qualitative characteristics of financial information;
- Characteristics of the reporting entity;
- Definition and recognition of the elements of financial statements;
- Measurement; and
- Presentation and disclosure.
The project will also consider the need for a framework for financial reporting under the cash basis of accounting, and implications of matters dealt with in the accrual framework for the cash basis.
Task Force progress / Board discussions to date
Preface: The IPSASB discussed the approach to incorporation of the Preface in the Conceptual Framework. The IPSASB confirmed that the Preface should be included in the Framework, but it was decided to defer approval and publication until the Framework is being finalized. Such an approach will allow the linkages with the concepts in the Framework to be made more explicit. The IPSASB reviewed a further draft of the Preface and made directions for amendments to some of the sections, particularly those dealing with involuntary transfers and non-exchange transactions and the longevity of the public sector.
First four chapters of Framework covering Phase 1 topics are published (Role and Authority of Framework; Objectives and Users of General Purpose Financial Reporting; Qualitative Characteristics; and Reporting Entity).
Phase 1: The IPSASB approved for issue the first four chapters of The Conceptual Framework for General Purpose Financial Reporting by Public Sector Entities (the Conceptual Framework): Chapter 1-Role and Authority of the Conceptual Framework; Chapter 2- Objectives and Users of General Purpose Financial Reporting; Chapter 3- Qualitative Characteristics Chapter 4- Reporting Entity.
The IPSAS also reviewed a draft Preface to the Conceptual Framework which identified features of the public sector environment which underpinned and influenced the concepts reflected in the Conceptual Framework. The IPSASB agreed the Preface would be further developed and included in the Framework in the future.
November 2012: CF–ED2 and CF–ED3 are published with response deadlines of April 30, 2013.
Phase 1: The IPSASB decided that the Phase 1 chapters should be brought to the December 2012 meeting for approval, with a view to publication in late 2012 or early 2013. The IPSASB acknowledged that there will need to be amendments to IPSAS 1, Presentation of Financial Statements, and will discuss the timing of this at a subsequent meeting. The ED, Key Characteristics of Financial Reporting with Potential Implications for Financial Reporting, will also be reconsidered at the December meeting.
Phase 2: The IPSASB considered a further version of Conceptual Framework Exposure Draft 2 (CF–ED2), Elements and Recognition in Financial Statements. For the definition of a liability, in the context of a present obligation, the IPSASB agreed to use the term “non-legal binding obligation” rather than the term “constructive obligation.” The IPSASB agreed to continue to propose deferred inflows and deferred outflows as elements. As a result, the residual amount will be net financial position rather than net assets. These elements are limited to non-exchange transactions where the resources are to be used over specified future reporting periods. The definitions of revenue and expenses were modified to deal appropriately with their relationship with deferred inflows and deferred outflows.
The IPSASB approved the ED. An Alternative View will highlight disagreement over the proposal to define deferred inflows and deferred outflows as elements and the reliance on the exchange/non-exchange distinction in the ED. The ED has a response date of April 30, 2013.
Phase 3: The IPSASB considered a further version of an ED, Measurement of Assets and Liabilities in Financial Statements. The IPSASB decided not to propose both market value and fair value as measurement bases. Section 3 of the ED deals with current measurement bases: market value, replacement cost, net selling price and value in use. A new section 4 addresses the fair value model as a way of estimating a market value where an active market does not exist. This section also discusses the use of a measurement basis or a valuation methodology as surrogates for the most appropriate measurement bases and valuation methodologies and the deprival value model as a method of guiding the selection of a current measurement basis for operational assets, primarily held for their operating capacity, where further analysis is required after an initial assessment of an appropriate measurement basis based on the objectives of financial reporting and the QCs.
The ED was approved with one member voting against and one abstention. The ED will include an Alternative View that reflects a view that an overarching measurement objective is necessary, rather than a measurement objective that refers back to the objectives and QCs. The ED will have a consultation expiry date of April 30th, 2013.
Phase 4: The IPSASB carried out a first review of the 39 responses to the Consultation Paper, Presentation and Disclosure in General Purpose Financial Reports. The IPSASB noted concerns from respondents about the more comprehensive scope of this phase of the Framework, i.e., financial reporting broader than the financial statements. The IPSASB decided to continue with the more comprehensive scope, but to consider the financial statements in more detail. The IPSASB noted that there had been considerable reservations about terminology, particularly where terms had been used differently than in other conceptual analyses of presentation and disclosure in the context of the financial statements. The IPSASB decided to continue with the terms “presentation”, “display” and “disclosure”, but to develop them further and explain them better. Noting significant concerns by respondents the IPSASB decided not to continue with the terms “core” and ”supporting”. Instead they would be replaced with descriptions of the types of information that should be considered either for display or for disclosure, emphasizing both understandability and the idea that the location of information should not mislead.
The IPSASB also decided to continue with an approach that involves (i) focusing on user needs to identify presentation objectives, (ii) applying the QCs to presentation decisions, and (iii) separate presentation concepts. However, it was decided that presentation objectives should be identified and included in CF–ED4, Presentation, rather than being left to the standards-level.
A first draft ED will be considered the IPSASB’s December meeting.
Phase 2: The IPSASB considered some key issues and reviewed a preliminary draft of CF–ED2.
The IPSASB decided to define deferred inflows and deferred outflows as separate elements. The definition is to be restricted to certain non-exchange transactions. Such transactions include involuntary transfers of resources, notably taxation, which may be received prior to the period in which they will finance the provision of goods and services. These elements also relate to transfers of resources provided in one reporting period to be used in a specified future reporting period, without performance and return obligations. Staff was directed to expand the explanation in the Basis of Conclusions on the IPSASB’s reasons for defining deferred inflows and deferred outflows as separate elements and rejecting the other options for dealing with deferred flows of resources.
Since a deferred outflow is not an asset and a deferred inflow is not a liability, the IPSASB considered a description for the key residual amount representing the aggregate of an entity’s assets plus deferred outflows less the entity’s liabilities and deferred inflows in the Statement of Financial Position at the reporting date. The IPSASB concluded that “net financial position” is an appropriate designation.
The IPSASB agreed that enforceability through legal or equivalent means is not an essential characteristic of a liability. The IPSASB accepted that the term “constructive obligation” has been problematic in the public sector, but expressed reservations about the alternative term “social or moral obligation” proposed by the Task Based Group and Staff. It was tentatively decided to retain the term “constructive obligation”. The IPSASB directed that an explanation should be included on interpreting the phrase “little or no realistic alternative to avoid an outflow of service potential or economic benefits” in the definition of a liability. Reservations were expressed about over-emphasizing the importance of funding in interpreting the phrase.
The IPSASB also considered the most appropriate way to address recognition in the Conceptual Framework. Currently existence uncertainty is addressed in the context of the definitions of a liability and an asset. Staff and the TBG proposed that measurement uncertainty should be addressed as part of Phase 4: Presentation. The IPSASB did not make a decision on this issue and directed that an Issues Paper should be developed and brought to the September meeting.
A further draft of CF–ED2 will be considered in September.
Phase 3: The IPSASB reviewed a first draft of CF–ED3. The IPSASB was content with much of the content, but directed that the ED should be modified to:
- Indicate that because historical cost provides a direct link to transactions actually undertaken by the entity under certain circumstances it can be used to assess whether resources have been used economically and efficiently and thereby, in particular, meet the objective of accountability;
- Clarify the relationship between the QCs and the complexity and subjectivity involved in specific measurement bases;
- Replace the term “current exchange value” with “market value”;
- Restructure the ED so that one section deals with “Current Measurement Bases” and includes sub-sections on Market Value, Net Selling Price, Replacement Cost and a new sub-section on Fair Value, which will involve the relocation of material currently in the Basis for Conclusions; and
- Include a simple matrix indicating whether particular measurement bases adopt and entry or exit perspective and whether they are based on observable or non-observable market values.
A further draft of CF–ED3 will be considered in September.
Phase 1: The IPSASB completed its review of a draft Framework dealing with the matters addressed in CF–ED1. The IPSASB provided Staff with directions for development of a final draft of this Phase of the Framework. The IPSASB also agreed that the final draft should be revisited as other Phases of the Conceptual Framework are further developed to identify and resolve any overarching issues and to ensure that all Phases of the Framework articulate. The IPSASB confirmed that the major features of the draft Phase 1 Framework are to reflect the following.
- The Role and Authority of the Framework and the Scope of Financial Reporting:
- The Conceptual Framework will establish the concepts that underpin financial reporting and will be applied by the IPSASB in developing IPSASs. The Framework will not establish authoritative requirements or override the requirements of IPSASs, but can provide guidance in dealing with financial reporting issues not dealt with by IPSASs or non-authoritative guidance issued by the IPSASB.
- GPFRs encompass financial statements, including notes thereto, and the presentation of information that enhances, complements and supplements the financial statements.
- The Objectives, Users and Information provided by GPFRs:
- The primary users of general purpose financial reports (GPFRs) are service recipients (and their representatives) and resource providers (and their representatives).
- The objectives of financial reporting are the provision of information useful for accountability and decision making purposes by users.
- GPFRs can provide information about:
- Financial position, financial performance and cash flows;
- Budget information;
- Service delivery achievements;
- Prospective financial and non-financial information; and
- Explanatory information.
- The Qualitative Characteristics (QCs) of, and Constraints on, Information included in GPFRs:
- The QCs are relevance, faithful representation, understandability, timeliness; comparability, and verifiability.
- The constraints are materiality, cost-benefit, and achieving an appropriate balance between the qualitative characteristics.
- The Reporting Entity:
- A public sector reporting entity is a government or other public sector organization, program or identifiable area of activity that prepares GPFRs. It may comprise two or more separate entities that present GPFRs as if they are a single entity.
- Key characteristics of a public sector reporting entity are that:
- It is an entity that raises economic resources from, or on behalf of, constituents and/or uses economic resources to undertake activities for the benefit of, or on behalf of, those constituents; and
- There are service recipients or resource providers dependent on GPFRs of the entity for information for accountability or decision-making purposes.
Phase 2: The IPSASB completed its review of the 36 responses received to CF–CP2. The IPSASB considered the five outstanding questions in CF–CP2, for which it had not previously provided directions to Staff. The IPSASB also considered in more detail the nature of enforceability, whether enforceability should be a key characteristic of a liability arising from obligations related to non-exchange transactions and approaches to deferred inflows and deferred outflows. These issues had first been discussed at the December 2011 meeting.
The IPSASB reconsidered the position of “service potential” and “economic benefits” in the definition of an asset. The IPSASB agreed that the phrase “service potential or economic benefits” should be used in the definition of an asset.
Having acknowledged that ownership interests exist in the public sector, the IPSASB considered whether such interests should be defined as an element. The IPSASB concluded that ownership interests are not a prevalent feature of the public sector but that certain components of ownership interests would have to be defined so that they can be distinguished from revenue and expenses.
The IPSASB concluded that enforceability is not a key characteristic of a liability for either an obligation arising from an exchange or a non-exchange transaction. The IPSASB directed Staff to carry out further work on the nature and interpretation of constructive obligations in the context of non-exchange transactions.
The IPSASB decided to explore further all approaches to deferred outflows and deferred inflows, including presentation as well as defining separate elements.
The IPSASB also considered and provided directions on a preliminary outline of an Exposure Draft of the Elements and Recognition section of the Conceptual Framework.
Key Characteristics of the Public Sector: The IPSASB considered the responses to the Exposure Draft (ED), Key Characteristics of the Public Sector with Potential Implications for Financial Reporting. The majority of respondents were supportive of the ED and considered that it should be published in its entirety with the Conceptual Framework.
Respondents expressed some specific reservations, principally that:
- The ED had not highlighted adequately the areas where the identified characteristics have an impact on public sector financial reporting; and
- A number of the identified characteristics are either not specific to the public sector or are over-emphasized.
The IPSASB decided that the ED should be further developed and reconsidered at a future meeting.
Staff was also directed to carry out further work on the linkages with the 4 phases of the Conceptual Framework project as part of the identification and resolution of overarching issues.
December 2011: The IPSASB considers whether to issue an integrated (umbrella) ED comprising all four phases of the Framework. The IPSASB decides to defer a final decision until the phases have been further developed.
The IPSASB considers a further draft of the Phase Four Consultation Paper. Following further elaboration of the discussion of display, core and supporting information, the IPSASB approves a Consultation Paper on Presentation, with an exposure period of four months.
The IPSASB completes its review of responses to the Phase 1 ED. The IPSASB provides staff with directions for the preparation of a first draft of the Framework for consideration in March 2012. Amongst such directions are:
- The primary users of general purpose financial reports (GPFRs) are service recipients (and their representatives) and resource providers (and their representatives) and the objectives of financial reporting are the provision of information useful for accountability and decision making purposes by users. The IPSASB also directed that the explanation of the relationship between users, objectives and information that may be provided by GPFRs should be strengthened;
- The scope of financial reporting should be broad enough to encompass financial statements, including notes thereto, and the presentation of information that enhances, complements and supplements the financial statements; and
- The qualitative characteristics (QCs) of information included in GPFRs are relevance, faithful representation, understandability, timeliness; comparability, and verifiability. The IPSASB also directed that:
- the QCs are not to be identified as fundamental or enhancing – rather, that the QCs work together to contribute to the usefulness of information; and
- the draft is to explain that materiality will be considered by the IPSASB in developing IPSASs and by individual entities in preparing GPFRs, and that it can relate to a number of the QCs;
The IPSASB also considers a first draft of a revised reporting entity section and provides directions for its further development, including that the next draft should reflect that a public sector reporting entity would encompass economic resources and activities (rather than focusing the explanation on the provision of goods or services).
The IPSASB continues its review of responses to the Phase 2 Consultation Paper, organizing the Specific Matters for Comment into themes.
The IPSASB explores the approaches to reporting financial performance and the determination of revenues and expenses for a reporting period. It takes the view that rigidly contrasting asset and liability-led and revenue and expense-led approaches is not helpful. The IPSASB concludes that there is information value in the identification of inflows and outflows applicable to particular reporting periods, but expresses some reservations that adopting such approaches might create inappropriate incentives to defer expenditure and income. The IPSASB directs Staff to further consider approaches to reporting financial performance, including the need for definitions of additional elements.
In the context of the definition of a liability, the IPSASB also discusses the enforceability of obligations. The IPSASB considers whether a distinction should be drawn between exchange and non-exchange transactions and whether non-enforceable constructive obligations give rise to (i) liabilities for neither exchange nor non-exchange transactions; (ii) liabilities for only exchange transactions; or (iii) liabilities for both exchange and non-exchange transactions. The IPSASB decides to focus further discussion on the view that only enforceable obligations might give rise to liabilities for both exchange and non-exchange transactions. It directs staff to further consider the implications of such an approach and, in particular, to consider the meaning of the term ‘enforceability’ and the issue of obligations where only the elapse of time prevents an obligation from being enforceable at the reporting date.
In other areas, the directions to Staff reflect tentative views that:
- sovereign rights and powers only give rise to assets when such rights/powers are exercised;
- the sovereign power to repudiate obligations should not be used as a rationale not to recognize obligations that would otherwise meet the definition of a liability;
- the definitions of both assets and liabilities should include reference to a past event;
- the definitions of revenue and expense should not be limited to ordinary activities;
- generally net assets/net liabilities are residual amounts rather than residual interests or ownership interests. However, Staff is directed to consider further the existence of ownership interests at whole of government level.
The initial discussion on Phase 3 focuses on whether an overall measurement objective should be developed, and, if so, what that measurement objective should be. The IPSASB agrees that a measurement objective should be developed, but does not advocate that such an objective should represent current value or another measurement basis. Staff is directed to develop a measurement objective reflecting user needs, the objectives of financial reporting and the QCs.
The IPSASB considers a proposed outline of an ED on Phase 3. The IPSASB confirms that the list of measurement bases that are intended to be addressed in the ED is appropriate: historical cost, market values, fair value, replacement cost, value in use and net selling price. It is suggested that the discussion of fair value should be general rather than in the context of convergence or maintaining alignment with IFRS. It is also suggested that the notion of ‘optimality’ inherent in depreciated replacement cost can be confusing to some users and that this needs to be discussed in the ED.
September 2011: The IPSASB considers a further draft of the Phase Four Consultation Paper dealing with Presentation, which refines and reduces the number of presentation concepts and contains alternative approaches based on direct application of the QCs and a more extensive analysis of user needs. The IPSASB considers that the approaches are not oppositional and directs that they be integrated in a further revision.
The IPSASB conducts an initial review of responses to the Phase One ED and focuses discussion on the role, authority and scope of the Framework. It also considers the approach to the reporting entity and group reporting entity. No decisions are made.
The IPSASB conducts an initial review of responses to the Phase Two Consultation Paper dealing with Elements and Recognition. Tentative agreement is reached that the definition of an asset should include reference to both service potential and economic benefits and that the definition of a liability should not include identification of a specific party to whom an obligation is owed or a requirement for a settlement date.
The IPSASB conducts an initial review of responses to the Phase Three Consultation Paper dealing with Measurement. The IPSASB directs Staff to develop a single measurement objective.
June 2011: The IPSASB considers a further draft Consultation Paper on Presentation (Phase Four) with six presentation concepts mapped to the qualitative characteristics and constraints of financial reporting. The IPSASB determines that these concepts should be refined and reduced in number. The IPSASB also directs that the next draft should include alternative approaches to presentation: an approach driven by user needs and an approach that discuses presentation more directly in relation to the qualitative characteristics and constraints, without using separate presentation concepts.
March 2011:The IPSASB considers a draft Consultation Paper on Presentation and provides directions on the meaning of presentation and the relationship between presentation, display and disclosure. The IPSASB also agrees to further develop presentation concepts and map these concepts to the qualitative characteristics and the constraints on information included in GPFRs.
The IPSASB approves an ED of Key Characteristics of the Public Sector and their Impact on Financial Reporting, subject to circulation to Members of a further revised version. The ED will have a 4 month consultation period.
December 2010: The IPSASB publishes the ED on Phase One and Consultation Papers on Elements and Recognition, and Measurement with exposure periods of six months ending on June 15, 2011. The IPSASB also publishes At a Glance summaries related to the Consultation Papers. A staff draft Key Characteristics of the Public Sector highlighting certain characteristics of the public sector that may have an impact on development of a conceptual framework for the public sector and therefore on accounting standard-setting in the public sector is also available. The document has not been approved by the IPSASB and therefore does not represent the views of the IPSASB. It will be further considered by the IPSASB in first quarter of 2011, with a view to approval for exposure for public comment.
November 2010: The IPSASB approves an ED on Phase One and Consultation Papers on Elements and Recognition, and Measurement with exposure periods of six months.
June 2010: The IPSASB considers a draft of Exposure Draft (ED) on Phase One subjects (Objectives, Scope, Qualitative Characteristics and Reporting Entity) and makes directions for revision so that a further version can be circulated out-of-session, with a view to approving an ED in November 2010. The IPSASB also considers further versions of draft Consultation Papers on Elements and Recognition, and Measurement and provides directions for further development. In accordance with directions at the April 2010 meeting the Consultation Paper on Measurement includes consideration of both assets and liabilities.
May/June 2010: The IPSASB establishes a Standard Setters Advisory Panel on the Conceptual Framework, which supersedes the Subcommittee.
April 2010: The IPSASB considered a revised project plan that reflected the priority accorded to the project by the IPSASB at its December 2009 meeting. The IPSASB further discussed issues arising from the analysis of responses to the first Consultation Paper. The IPSASB also discussed further issues papers on the Elements and Recognition phase and a draft Consultation Paper on the assets component of the Measurement phase, together with issues papers on the deprival value model in the context of liabilities and concepts of capital.
December 2009: The IPSASB continued its review of responses to the Phase 1 Consultation Paper. This review will continue at the IPSASBs next meeting in April 2010.
September 2009: The IPSASB continued its consideration of issues relating to Phase 3: Measurement. The IPSASB agreed that the next stage of development is to take a draft CP 3 to the Conceptual Framework Subcommittee.
May 2009: The IPSASB commenced its review of the 55 responses to the Consultation Paper on Phase 1 of its Conceptual Framework project. The IPSASB will continue its review of the responses at meetings during 2009.
The IPSASB also considered a draft Consultation Paper on the definition and recognition of elements (phase 2) and a first paper on measurement (phase 3). The IPSASB will consider further papers on phases 2 and 3 at its September meeting.
March 2009: Comments on the Consultation Paper (see below) are due by March 31. The IPSASB will commence its review of comments at its next meeting in May 2009.
September 2008: The IPSASB approved and published for comment the Consultation Paper Conceptual Framework for General Purpose Financial Reporting by Public Sector Entities: The Objectives of Financial Reporting, The Scope of Financial Reporting, The Qualitative Characteristics of Information Included in General Purpose Financial Reports, The Reporting Entity, with a comment date of March 31, 2009.
June 2008: The IPSASB reviewed an updated draft Consultation Paper dealing with 'objectives of general purpose financial reporting', 'scope of general purpose financial reporting', 'qualitative characteristics of financial information included in general purpose financial reports' and 'the reporting entity'. The IPSASB confirmed its preliminary views on the objectives and scope of financial reporting and agreed preliminary views that, in broad terms:
The qualitative characteristics of information included in general purpose financial reports (GPFRs) should be identified as relevance, faithful representation, timeliness, understandability, comparability and verifiability. Constraints on information included in GPFRs are materiality, cost and the appropriate balance between the characteristics;
- The key characteristic of a reporting entity is the existence of users dependent on GPFRs for accountability purposes and for making resource allocation, political and social decisions. A reporting entity may have a separate identity at law or be an organization, activity or administrative arrangement; and
The boundary of a group reporting entity should include the government (or other reporting entity) and other entities over which the government (or other reporting entity) has the power to direct the strategic financing and operating policies and, as a consequence, has access to, and can increase, maintain or protect, benefits from those entities or is exposed to a financial burden or loss by the other entities.
The IPSASB also tentatively agreed the text of the draft Consultation Paper subject to a final review of amendments and agreement on the executive summary and other introductory material out of session. The Consultation Paper is planned for publication in September.
The IPSASB also reviewed developments with the group 2 Consultation Paper which deals with the definition and recognition of elements.
The Board discussed some of the key aspects of the IASB/FASB conceptual framework project and in that context considered the need to change the existing IPSASB asset and liability definitions. As such, the IPSASB directed staff to explore the 'rights and obligations' approach being mindful of the type of rights a government possesses (non-exchange) and the types of liabilities of a government (non-exchange). The Board expressed concern with taking a strictly 'legal' approach as well as focusing solely on enforceability noting that some environmental liabilities may be questionable using this approach.
While open to considering developments from the IASB/FASB project, the IPSASB also believed it was important to firstly review its existing definitions and consider general improvements that could be made. The Board also emphasized the importance of keeping any definitions at a high level and identifying public sector specific examples to illustrate the effects of any changes proposed.
A draft of the group 2 Consultation Paper is planned to be provided to the IPSASB for consideration before the next Board meeting in October 2008.
March 2008: The IPSASB performed a review of a first draft Consultation Paper which consolidates four previously separate chapters dealing with 'objectives of general purpose financial reporting', 'scope of general purpose financial reporting', 'qualitative characteristics of financial information included in general purpose financial reports' and 'the reporting entity'. Each chapter was discussed in detail with the IPSASB agreeing that the draft paper be restructured and refocused to identify a number of IPSASB preliminary views for further consideration in June 2008 - these included:
- The objectives of financial reporting be identified as the disclosure of information for accountability and decision making purposes;
- The scope of financial reporting should encompass the disclosure of financial information about past transactions and events such as presented in "conventional" financial statements, as well as non-financial information about the performance of the entity including its service delivery achievements, and prospective financial information consistent with the achievement of the objective of financial reporting - but would not encompass matters of policy formulation; and
A public sector reporting entity should be described as an entity that is required or elects to prepare a general purpose financial report (GPFR) in accordance with IPSASs. The IPSASB agreed the need to further explore whether the boundary of the reporting entity in the public sector should be determined on a control or an accountability basis, and issues that might arise in the application of those bases.
For qualitative characteristics, the IPSASB had significant discussion as to whether timeliness and understandability need special consideration in a public sector context. Related to this was 'if' and 'what' any 'order of application' should be applied to public sector qualitative characteristics.
The IPSASB directed that the draft Consultation Paper be revised for scheduled approval at their next meeting in June 2008.
November 2007: The IPSASB reviewed papers on 'objectives', 'scope of general purpose financial reporting', 'qualitative characteristics of financial information' and 'the reporting entity' prepared by national standards setters and IPSASB staff. They directed that a first draft of a Consultation Paper which consolidates all four papers be prepared for review at their next meeting in March 2008.
July 2007: The IPSASB reviewed draft consultation papers on "Objectives of financial reporting" and the "Scope of financial reporting" and provided directions for their further development. Final drafts of these papers are to be reviewed by the IPSASB at its November 2007 meeting, together with papers on the "Characteristics of the reporting entity" and "Qualitative characteristics of financial information".
The IPSASB agreed that other components of the project should be actioned as soon as possible with a view to accelerating the development process.
The subcommittee met and considered a revised paper dealing with the reporting entity. The paper is to be further developed for review, as discussed above, by the IPSASB in November 2007.
March 2007: The IPSASB noted progress and the current status of the project, including that initial issues papers on Objectives, Scope, Reporting Entity and Qualitative Characteristics had been prepared for review by the subcommittee.
The Board discussed the scope of the conceptual framework, differences between general purpose financial statements and general purpose financial reporting and the notion of a reporting entity. Members noted that the need to demonstrate accountability implied reporting beyond general purpose financial statements, and a range of factors would need to be considered in determining the reporting entity.
The subcommittee held its first meeting to confirm operating procedures and timing of project development and to review initial issues papers dealing with:
- Objectives of financial reporting: prepared by UK - ASB;
- Scope of financial reporting: prepared by South Africa-ASB;
- Qualitative Characteristics: prepared by Norway - Institute; and
- Reporting entity: prepared by Australia - AASB.
November 2006: The IPSASB formally approved the project brief, noting that:
- The project would be actioned with the expectation that CPs on the components of the Framework and then an exposure draft of the full Framework would be issued;
- The IPSASB Framework would deal with general purpose financial reports, and would not be limited to only general purpose financial statements;
- When the draft of the paper on objectives of financial reporting was developed, it would be used as the basis for "focus group discussions" and/or similar public hearings, to facilitate additional input on users and user needs; and
- The Framework under the accrual basis would initially be developed, and the implications for the cash basis of financial reporting considered towards the end of the project.
July 2006: The IPSASB met with representatives of national standards setters (NSS) from Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Israel, Malaysia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Also participating were the Public Sector Committee of the Federation des Experts Comptables Europeens (FEE), the IASB, the Task Force on the Harmonization of the Public Sector Accounting (TFHPSA) and Eurostat. There was agreement the IPSASB would lead a collaborative project. A draft project brief and tentative development program was also agreed for formal approval in November 2006.