International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) are a set of accounting standards issued by the IPSAS Board for use by public sector entities around the world in the preparation of financial statements. These standards are based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).


IPSAS aims to improve the quality of general purpose financial reporting by public sector entities, leading to better informed assessments of the resource allocation decisions made by governments, thereby increasing transparency and accountability.


IPSAS are accounting standards for application by national governments, regional (e.g., state, provincial, territorial) governments, local (e.g., city, town) governments and related governmental entities (e.g., agencies, boards and commissions). IPSAS standards are widely used by intergovernmental organizations or institutions. IPSAS do not apply to government business enterprises.

Due process

IPSAS are issued by IPSASB (International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board), an independent organ of IFAC (International Federation of Accountants). The IPSASB adopts a due process for the development of IPSAS that provides the opportunity for comment by interested parties including auditors, preparers (including finance ministries), standard setters, and individuals. IPSASB meetings to discuss the development and to approve the issuance of IPSAS or other papers are open to the public. Agenda papers, including the minutes of the meetings of the IPSASB, are published on the IPSASB's website: Observers on the IPSASB meetings include ADB, EU, IASB, IMF, INTOSAI, OECD, UN, UNDP and the World Bank.

Convergence with IFRS

IPSAS are based on the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), formerly known as IAS. IFRS are issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). IPSASB adapts IFRS to a public sector context when appropriate. In undertaking that process, the IPSASB attempts, wherever possible, to maintain the accounting treatment and original text of the IFRS unless there is a significant public sector issue which warrants a departure.


The approved text of IPSAS standards is that published by the IPSASB in the English language. The IPSASB Handbook has been translated from English into a number of languages, including French [1], Spanish [2], German, Russian and Chinese. The Arab Society of Certified Accountants (ASCA) of Jordan issued an Arabic [3] version of the IPSASB Handbook. In addition, Brazil is working on translation of IPSAS into Portuguese. See [4] for more information.


There are 42 standards on the accrual basis of accounting and one standard on the cash basis of accounting (source: IPSAS Handbook published March 2011).


Multilateral development banks (World Bank, ADB) provide a substantial amount of funding for the work of IPSASB. Other sources of revenue for the development of IPSASs include funding from international, national and regional government entities. In addition, IFAC (International Federation of Accountants) and the CICA (Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants) support the IPSASB activity.

Impact of the credit crisis on public sector accounting

The credit crisis has raised several public sector accounting issues. Governments have extended credit to banks, guaranteed the liabilities of banks, purchased impaired debt instruments and in some instances have assumed control of banks. The unique nature of the credit crisis and the unprecedented response by governments around the world has reinforced the importance of high-quality standards for financial reporting by governments. The credit crisis has increased the need for accountability in the public sector and for transparency in its financial dealings.

Adoption by intergovernmental organizations

The following intergovernmental organizations have adopted IPSAS or are in the process of adopting IPSAS:

United Nations System

UN (United Nations), Programmes and Funds (such as UNDP, UNICEF and UNHCR), Specialized Agencies (such as FAO, ICAO, ILO, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNOPS and WHO) and Related Organizations (such as IAEA, OPCW, the World Trade Organization, and the World Meteorological Organization) aim to be IPSAS compliant.

  • WFP (World Food Programme): WFP is the first United Nations agency to implement IPSAS. In its 2008 financial statements,[2] WFP adopted all standards issued by the IPSAS Board including several standards prior to their effective date.
  • PNUD: Adoption in progress (2009/2012)[3]

IPSAS Manager Mark Fielding-Pritchard reports that UN Women adopted in full IPSAS from 1 January 2012. This was followed by a clean audit report from UNBoA as of 31 December 2012.

Adoption by country

Many governments say they are introducing IPSAS because it is considered to be good practice. However, very few governments have actually adopted the standards. In terms of the Cash Basis IPSAS, not a single country in the world has actually adopted the standard. The main problem is the key requirement to produce consolidated financial statements for all controlled entities. Consolidating government business entities with ministries and departments would be very time-consuming, and almost all governments consider that it is not worth the very real costs.

However, the number of governments that have actually adopted the full accrual basis for the financial statements of their central government ministries is very limited. In December 2007, Mike Hathorn (then chair of the IPSAS Board) said that only six governments across the world had actually issued financial statements on the full accrual basis (at the FEE Public Sector meeting, Brussels). In September 2009, the IMF said that the following countries had adopted the full accrual basis of accounting:

See –

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2011-09-10.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ The financial statements of WFP are available from: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2009-07-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-15. Retrieved 2011-11-04.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "".