Cagliari: Seminar 2

Seminar 2: Thursday, May 22, 2008
American Government Accounting:
Environment, History and Theory


Issues to Address:

  • * Who in the American political and economic system does – or should – care about the financial condition and performance of government? Why? Which government?
  • *** How has American government accounting developed during past 100 years?
  • * What is current going on to educate the American public and politicians about the fiscal challenges (i.e. problems) facing government at all levels?
  • ** Why is the economist’s theory of the firm (serving as a foundation for corporate accounting) not robust enough for a theory of government for government accounting?
  • ** Why is policy-making or standard-setting an important area of government accounting research? How can such research be conducted?

Professor Chan’s lecture based on:

  1. * American Government Accounting Standards (unpublished manuscript): Chapter 2 “The American Political and Economic Environment…” focus only the section on the characteristics of the American and political environment. [ChanAmGASCh2May08.pdf]
  2. *** American Government Accounting Standards, Chapter 3 “The History of American Government Reform.” [ChanAmGASCh3May08.pdf]
  3. * National Council on Governmental Accounting (NCGA) Research Study on the Objectives of Government Accounting and Financial Reporting, Summary of the Report, with Allan R. Drebin and Lorna Fergusion (1981). [Chan1981DrebinFergusonNCGA.pdf]
  4. ** American Government Accounting Standards (unpublished manuscript): Chapter 2 “… and Government Accounting Theory Development” focus on the section on the search for a theory of government useful for accounting. [ChanAmGASCh2May08.pdf]
  5. * “Research on Accounting Policy Making with Applications to Government Accounting” in Research in Government Accounting, Reporting, Budgeting and Auditing: Evaluation and Issues for Research (AAA Public Sector Section, Research Committee, 1982), pp. 28-43. [Chan1982GovtAcctgPolicymaking.pdf]

Recommended Internet Exercises

  • Surf the website of the Concord Coalition to find out about its Fiscal Wake-up Tour.
  • Surf the website of the City of Nashville (in the State of Tennessee) to see how one American city is practicing fiscal transparency in terms of using the Internet to display the budget process and fiscal documents.

Discussion Questions

  • See the “Issues…” above, and
  • Substitute Italy for America, and see how the questions can be answered in the Italian context.

Follow-up Activities

  • Continue with the Italian government accounting case.


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