Setting high professional standards for public services around the world

This paper updates ACCA’s policy positions on a range of themes for public services. It sets out ACCA’s policies for members, employers and a wide range of external stakeholders with an interest in public services.


There is little doubt that we are continuing to live in financially challenging times. The problems highlighted by the sovereign debt crisis are deeply rooted in poor institutional fiscal management and exacerbated by issues of poor public financial management, accountability and transparency. 

Although there is evidence of some improvements being made around the world there is still much more to be done. In many countries governments need to improve the way in which they manage their finances that both protects the public interest and investors in governments. Improvements are needed irrespective of whether countries are facing periods of austerity or economic growth as both sets of circumstances present their own different challenges. 

This paper refreshes ACCA’s policies that were set out in its 2010 paper and addresses a number of key areas that are fundamentally important for finance professionals working in a time of rapidly changing public services. It covers issues ranging from how ACCA defines public services to what we believe constitutes effective public financial management and reporting, together with the governance of public services.

Key drivers for the paper are:

  • to set out the criteria for achieving strong public financial management
  • to highlight the key skills for finance professionals
  • to demonstrate the importance of the quality of information available (both financial and service delivery) to help inform decision making
  • to set out criteria for achieving good governance which considers both the ‘hard’ factors of systems, procedures and audit and the ‘soft’ factors relating to developing a strong ethical culture.