Two Doctoral Seminars and a Workshop
at the University of Napoli - Parthenope

James L. Chan
Professor Emeritus of Accounting
University of Illinois at Chicago, U.S.A.
Visiting Professor of Accounting
University of Cagliari, Italy

Academic Year 2008




Participants. The two seminars on American government Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the workshop on CIGAR (comparative international government accounting research) and IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards) are intended primarily for doctoral students and young academics who are interested in doing qualitative and policy-oriented government accounting research in a national or international context. Practitioners involved in setting standards and responding to proposed standards may also find the topics of interest. Most of the materials should also be accessible to students at the master’s level. Since no technical accounting knowledge is required, the seminar can also be appropriate and useful to academics and practitioners in public budgeting, public administration/management and public policy analysis.

Objective and Subject Areas. The two seminars are designed to provide the participants with a systematic and critical overview of American government accounting – institutional structure for standard setting, concepts, principles and standards. The workshop on IPSAS and CIGAR, possibly with other speakers, will address the issues of international uniformity and national diversity.

Schedule. There will be two seminars and a workshop with the following schedule:

Seminar 1, June 23, 2008
Topic: American Govt. Accounting: Environment, History, Standard-setting Institutions and Process

Seminar 2, June 24, 2008
Topic: American Government GAAP

Workshop, June 25, 2008
Topic: IPSAS and CIGAR: International Uniformity and National Diversity

Resources. Most readings are available in the Publications section of Unless otherwise noted, they are written by Prof. Chan. Most “real life” illustrations can also be found through the links provided at the above website. Unpublished materials will also be provided with restricted access. If you are unsure or need further information, please do not hesitate to ask Professor Chan.

Format. Each seminar will last three hours. In the first 2 to 2 1/4 hours, Professor Chan will introduce the topic and present a lecture based primarily on his research and publications. This will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a general discussion. The workshop will include a one-hour presentation on CIGAR and IPSAS by Professor Chan, followed by other speakers and a general discussion (debate?) about the merits of international uniformity and national diversity in government accounting and financial reporting.

Requirement. Since it is both infeasible and undesirable to regurgitate the ideas already in the background papers, participants are required to have read the papers in advance. The relative importance of the topics and readings is indicated by the number of “stars”, with *** being the most important. It is anticipated that the readings for each seminar/workshop will usually take three to four hours for someone with good English reading comprehension.


Seminar 1 on Monday, June 23, 2008
American Government Accounting: Environment, History,
Standard-setting Institutions and Process


  • ** How has American government accounting developed during the past 100 years?
  • ** 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? What is the alternative?
  • ** Who are the stakeholders of FASAB and GASB, which set Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for governments in the United States? What do the stakeholders contribute? What do they expect in return?
  • *** What are the ten aspects of financial accounting for government? In each aspect, which choices have to be made from among the alternatives?

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. ** American Government Accounting Standards, Chapter 4 “Standard-setting Institutions, Due Process and Outputs” – focus only on the section “A Stakeholder Theory of Government Accounting Standard-setting Institutions. [ChanAmGASCh4Cag.pdf]
  4. *** “Less Is More: Principles for Government Accounting,” Stand und Perspektiven der Oeffentlichen Betriebswirtschaftslehre II, Festschrift für Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Peter Eichhorn anlaesslich seiner Emeritierung (State and Perspectives of Public Sector Management II, Honorary Publication for Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Peter Eichhorn on the occasion of his retirement), edited by Dietmar Braeunig and Dorothea Greiling (Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2007), pp. 650-663. [Chan2007More.pdf]

* * * * *

Seminar 2 on Tuesday, June 24, 2008

American Government Generally
Accepted Accounting Principles


  • *** What choices have the GASB and FASAB selected in each aspect of financial accounting policy?
  • *** How have the GASB and FASAB operationally defined consolidated financial statements, broad measurement focus and accrual basis of accounting?
  • ** In what ways are consolidated financial statements under the accrual basis useful? To whom? For what purposes?
  • ** How could the current financial reporting model be improved?

Professor Chan’s lecture based on:

  1. ** American Government Accounting Standards, Chapter 5 “The Structure of American Government Accounting Standards” – focus only on the section on substantive issues. [ChanAmGASCh5Cag.pdf]
  2. *** Government and Nonprofit Accounting: Concepts, Standards and Information Use (unpublished manuscript), Chapter 7 “Federal Government-wide Financial Reporting” [Chan7FedRep5.1.pdf]
  3. *** Government and Nonprofit Accounting: Concepts, Standards and Information Use (unpublished manuscript), Chapter 11 “Government-level Financial Statements and Accounting of State and Local governments” [Chan11V5.1.pdf]

Recommended Follow-up Internet Exercises:

Use the links available at to access:

* * * * *

Workshop on Wednesday, June 25, 2008
IPSAS and CIGAR: International
Uniformity and National Diversity

Issues to Address:

  • ** What is so appealing about business accounting that it has become the basis for International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)?
  • *** What are the advantages and disadvantages of the way in which IPSAS have been developed to date?
  • *** What are the arguments for and against international uniformity in government accounting and financial reporting?
  • ** What is the value added by IPSAS to the international standards and codes developed to improve government fiscal accountability and transparency?
  • *** How can a nation’s government accounting system/practice be described?
  • *** What are the substantive and methodological issues in comparative international government accounting research?
  • ** What is the role of CIGAR in addressing the issue of international uniformity vs. national diversity?

Professor Chan’s Presentation based on:

  1. *** “International Public Sector Accounting Standards,” Encyclopedia for Public Administration and Public Policy (Dekker, 2005). [Chan2005IPSAS.pdf]
  2. ** “Government Accounting: An Assessment of Theory, Purposes and Standards,” Public Money and Management (January, 2003), pp. 13-20. [Chan2003Assess.pdf]
  3. ** “IPSAS and Government Accounting Reform in Developing Countries,” in Accounting Reform in the Public Sector: Mimicry, Fad or Necessity, edited by Evelyne Lande and Jean-Claude Scheid (France: Expert Comptable Media, 2006), pp. 31-42. [Chan2006IPSAS&GAFDC.pdf]
  4. *** “Modeling Governmental Accounting Innovations: An Assessment and Future Research Directions,” Research in Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting, Vol. 9 (1996), pp. 147-174, with Rowan H. Jones and Klaus G. Lüder. [ChanJonesLuder1996Modeling.pdf]
  5. ** “Professor Lüder’s CIGAR Contributions and Critique: Building a Discipline,” in Neues offentlichen Rechnungswesens ed. by D. Budaus, W. Kupper and L. Streitferdt (Germany: Gabler, 2000), pp. 3-18. [Chan2001LuderContrib.pdf]
  6. ** “CIGAR Methodological Issues and Strategies,” Innovations in Government Accounting, edited by Vicente Montesinos and Jose Manual Vela (Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002), pp. 23-29. [Chan2002CIGARMethod.pdf]

Recommended Follow-up Internet Exercises: