Why the PSA discussion group matters

The Public Sector Accounting Discussion Group is a regular public forum that gathers to discuss information from stakeholders as to the challenges they face when applying the PSA Handbook.

A relatively new discussion mechanism launched by the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB) helps PSAB better understand issues and concerns arising from the application of the CPA Canada Public Sector Accounting (PSA) Handbook. The PSA discussion group has met four times in a little more than 16 months. This regular public forum gathers and discusses information from stakeholders regarding the challenges they face when applying the PSA Handbook.

WHO’S WHO

The group’s volunteer members have an in-depth, technical knowledge of the PSA Handbook and are aware of the challenges created by the application of standards in public sector financial reporting. They are your professional colleagues, representing a diverse group of financial executives and auditors in the public sector from across Canada. Group members bring an incredible wealth and breadth of experience and perspectives to the discussions, having served federal, provincial and municipal governments and government organizations. This experience was gained in roles as varied as a deputy minister, auditor general, controller and city treasurer.

DISCUSSION POINTS

To date, 18 submissions referencing 11 handbook sections have been discussed by the group. Both preparers and auditors benefit from these talks by hearing different views on the issues. A searchable database provides a library of these views that can be sourced when others are dealing with similar concerns. Some specific standards and issues include:

• aspects of the Government Transfers standard;

• “Shared Risk” Retirement Benefit Arrangements;

• modified equity accounting by government business enterprises; challenges faced when presenting a comparison of output performance and originally planned budget information; and

• the value of Statements of Recommended Practice with respect to reporting supplementary information beyond that presented in financial statements.

DISCUSSIONS EQUAL INITIATIVES

The group doesn’t issue pronouncements or other communications or offer interpretations of standards. Rather, the objective of the group is to have a thorough discussion of application issues in public so that practices and interpretations from across the country are considered. Group discussions have led to initiatives such as:

• PSAB gathering stakeholders’ experience in the implementation — and ongoing application — of Government Transfers. PSAB is asking for your input;

• a project to update PSAB’s standards on how employment benefits are measured and reported; and

• a new illustration in the publication Reporting Implications of New Auditing and Accounting Standards.

WELCOME ONE, WELCOME ALL

We ask that you submit any and all issues for consideration. If you’re submitting an issue, you will have the opportunity to participate — or appoint a representative to participate on your behalf — in the discussion at the group meeting. The public is also invited to come out to observe the discussion of items on the agenda. More information about the Public Sector Accounting discussion group can be found at frascanada.ca. PSAB is listening.

You can also visit us online to submit an issue, search past meeting topics or register as an observer for an upcoming meeting: http://ow.ly/JGlHG.