Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods

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Executive summary

The Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts Sources and Methods, Australia 2015 (AGFS15) provides a comprehensive account of the GFS concepts to be applied in the Australian context. Its main purpose is to serve as a reference manual for users of the statistics who require a detailed understanding and to assist data providers and compilers of GFS.

The Australian manual has been updated to incorporate the changes sought by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as outlined in its Government Finance Statistics Manual 2014 (IMF GFSM 2014). These revisions were necessary to reflect changes to the international and Australian standards for compiling national accounts as GFS are a key input to those measures.

Australia's GFS are derived from Government accounting systems. While there are inevitably differences between the statistical and accounting requirements the ABS has worked with Government and accounting bodies to minimise them.

Note that ABS GFS publications and associated output will continue to be published on the previous GFS framework as outlined in Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts Sources & Methods, Australia 2005 (AGFS05) until September quarter 2017. Select Past & Future Releases to view this earlier document.


This manual provides a comprehensive account of the concepts applied in Australian government finance statistics (GFS) and describes the sources of data and methods used to compile the statistics. This is the third edition of the Australian GFS Manual published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 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 financial statistics, including those in state and territory treasuries, and the Department 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 second edition (released in 2005). Australia’s system for producing GFS has been changed because of the revision of the international standard for compiling national accounts and the consequent revision of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF's) GFS Manual 2014. The statistical concepts and classification principles used in compiling Australian GFS are 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 GFS. In revising the system for producing GFS, the ABS worked 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 GFS to reconcile the data recorded in these two sources of information.

While this manual provides extensive detail about GFS, 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.

David Kalisch
Australian Statistician

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