Quality declaration - summary
Statistics presented in Government Finance Statistics, Australia (cat. no. 5519.0.55.001) are based on information provided in, or underlying the published accounting statements and reports of governments and their authorities. For the general government sector for the Commonwealth Government and all state governments, the primary quarterly data sources are public accounts and budget management systems of state treasuries and the Commonwealth Department of Finance and Deregulation. For South Australia, quarterly Government Finance Statistics (GFS) was collected from an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey of the largest state government departments up to June quarter 2011. The survey has been replaced by data for all departments sourced from the South Australian budgetary management system. For the public non-financial corporation sector, GFS are collected from a survey of the largest corporations in several jurisdictions where the relevant treasury does not provide that data as part of its accounting reporting. For local government, the main data source is a quarterly GFS survey of local governments from all jurisdictions.
For information on the institutional environment of the ABS, including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.
The term 'Government Finance Statistics' refers to statistics that measure the financial activities of governments and reflect the impact of those activities on other sectors of the economy. The Australian system of GFS is designed to provide statistical information on public sector entities in Australia classified in a uniform and systematic way.
GFS enables policy makers and users to analyse the financial operations and financial position of the public sector by the level of government, institutional sector or set of transactions. The system of GFS is based on international standards set out in the System of National Accounts, 2008 (2008 SNA) and the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Government Finance Statistics Manual (GFSM).
The IMF published a revised Government Finance Statistics Manual (GFSM 2014) and the ABS GFS Manual was updated to reflect the new international standards. These changes are presented in the Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2015 (cat. no. 5514.0) (AGFS15) and have been implemented for data reported for periods from 1 July 2017 onwards.
The system of GFS provides details of revenues, expenses, cash flows and assets and liabilities of the Australian public sector and comprises units which are owned and/or controlled by the Commonwealth, state and local governments.
This release presents GFS on an accrual accounting basis for each jurisdiction for the general government sector and the non-financial public sector. This release presents the operating statement and balance sheet outputs.
Quarterly GFS are released about nine weeks after the end of the quarter.
The main influence on the accuracy of GFS data is non-sampling error. Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. The most significant of these errors are the non-final nature of the quarterly data, misreporting and processing errors. Every effort is made to minimise error by working closely with data providers, training of processing staff and efficient data processing procedures.
Where the economic activity of some units are relatively insignificant, undercoverage can arise. These few units are either omitted or some of their activities are not covered by the collection methodology.
Revisions are made to the quarterly GFS data as required as a result of new and updated information available from providers.
In 1998–99, the ABS adopted an accrual basis of recording for its GFS. Prior to this the ABS GFS was cash based. In addition to the information published, some annual basis GFS data are available back to 1961–62. However, due to the different compilation and data sources, data from 1998–99 onwards are not directly comparable with earlier cash data. The ABS has not established a quantitative measure of this break in series because the existing data sources do not permit this. Data on a pure accruals basis are only available from 1998–99.
In 1992–93 the Commonwealth and state governments implemented the uniform presentation framework (UPF) in their budget documents to introduce uniformity into the presentation of GFS.
From 2008–09 onwards, Australian Accounting Standard Board 1049 Whole of Government and General Government Sector Financial Reporting (AASB 1049) replaced Australian Accounting Standard 31 Financial Reporting by Government (AAS 31) as the standard Governments should follow in the preparation of their financial statements. A key feature of AASB 1049 is the requirement that where the GFS standards differ from the accounting standards, a reconciliation to the key GFS aggregates and an explanation for these must be presented in a reconciliation statement. Data presented in this publication may differ from data published by Treasuries in their reconciliation statements for the key aggregates where Treasuries have not adjusted their data to a GFS basis, where ABS have a different view on classification treatments, where ABS employ a different consolidation methodology, or where data have been included that were not available when the jurisdiction's GFS presentations were published.
The statistics in this release have been compiled using standard definitions, classifications and treatment of government financial transactions to facilitate comparisons between levels of government and between states within a level of government. However, the statistics also reflect real differences between the administrative and accounting arrangements of the various jurisdictions and these differences need to be taken into account when making interstate comparisons. For example, only a state level of government exists in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The ACT government performs a number of functions which are undertaken by local government authorities in other jurisdictions.
To compile statistics about the financial activities of a particular level of government, or any other grouping of public sector units, transactions and debtor/creditor relationships between units within the chosen grouping (sector or subsector) have to be matched and eliminated to avoid double counting. The process of matching and eliminating these items within the chosen group is known as 'consolidation'.
While GFS and Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA) substantively share the same conceptual framework (2008 SNA), there are methodological differences between GFS and ASNA analytical measures (for example net worth and net lending/borrowing). Descriptions of GFS/ASNA reconciliations are outlined in Section 6 of the ABS publication Information Paper: Accruals-based Government Finance Statistics (cat. no. 5517.0).
The publication Government Finance Statistics, Australia (cat. no. 5519.0.55.001) contains detailed Explanatory Notes and a Glossary that provide information on the data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.
Detailed information on the concepts, sources and methods used in compiling Government Finance Statistics can be found in Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2015 (cat. no. 5514.0).