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5514.0.55.001 - Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/10/2003   
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Contents >> Preface

Warning - this document is a previous issue of this product and is out of date. An acrobat version of this document have been released. Please use the acrobat version for the most up to date information Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (5514.0)


This publication is the second edition of a comprehensive account of the concepts applied in government finance statistics (GFS) published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the sources of data and methods used to compile the statistics. Its main purpose is to serve as a reference manual for users of the statistics who require a detailed understanding of the concepts, sources and methods in order to analyse and interpret the information that the statistics convey. The manual will also assist compilers of government finance statistics, including those in Commonwealth, State and Territory Treasuries or Departments of Finance responsible for preparing information on a ‘GFS’ basis.

The information in this edition of the manual substantially revises much of the information contained in the first edition. Australia’s system for producing government finance statistics has been changed because of the following developments:

  • introduction of accrual accounting throughout government in Australia to replace the former cash-based systems;
  • revision of the international standard for compiling national accounts and the consequent revision of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF's) standard for government finance statistics.

The statistical concepts and classification principles used by the ABS in compiling government finance statistics have been historically based on the IMF standard because it is designed to enable preparation of uniform statistics relating to all IMF member countries and is widely recognised in the international statistical community.

Government accounting systems are the main source of data that enter government finance statistics. In revising the system for producing government finance statistics, the ABS worked closely with authorities responsible for developing and administering the accounting standards that are applied by Australian governments. Differences between accounting and statistical concepts are inevitable because they serve different purposes. While steps are being taken to keep these differences to a minimum, some remain. These have been identified and clear links have been established between the accounting and statistical systems. The links are set out in this manual. This will enable users of government financial reports and government finance statistics to reconcile the data recorded in these two sources of government financial information.

While this manual provides extensive detail about government finance statistics, coverage of every conceivable aspect is impossible. Therefore, when examples of various types of activities that are covered by particular aspects of GFS are presented, they should be treated as illustrative rather than as definitive.

This version of the manual is being provided in electronic only form on the ABS Website. The ABS invites comments on the clarity, readability and useability of the manual. Comments may be provided to Heather Olley, Director, Public Finance Section (email: <heather.olley@abs.gov.au>). The ABS will consider these comments and provide an updated version of the manual, in both printed and electronic form, in 2004.


Dennis Trewin

Australian Statistician


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