افشای دارایی های زیربنایی در گزارش های سالانه بخش دولتی استرالیا
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8265||2004||19 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting Forum, Volume 28, Issue 4, December 2004, Pages 349–368
Recent Australian public sector reforms have raised concerns about the disclosure of infrastructure asset information as a basis for improved accountability. This paper examines whether specific infrastructure asset information identified in relevant literature is disclosed in practice. A cross-sectional, content analysis of 1999 annual report disclosures made by 73 Australian public sector entities operating in economic infrastructure industries revealed a low level of, and considerable diversity in, disclosures, particularly relating to the physical condition of infrastructure assets, their maintenance and performance measurement. Such disclosure was found to be driven by government reporting guidelines rather than the use of corporate form.
This paper examines reporting of physical economic infrastructure assets in the annual reports of Australian public sector entities. Infrastructure can be divided into economic, social and human capital categories (National Commission of Audit, 1996, p. 180). Economic infrastructure, which is examined here, includes physical facilities such as communications, transport networks and power, water and sewerage distribution systems. In financial accounting, infrastructure assets have been defined as “…all non-current assets comprising the public facilities that provide essential services and enhance the productive capacity of the economy. They include roads, bridges, railroads, water supply and sewerage systems, power generation and distribution networks” (Tasmania Treasury and Finance, 1995, para A2). Although the nature of economic infrastructure is well understood, the reporting of infrastructure assets in annual reports remains controversial (Hay, 1994; McCrae & Aiken, 2000; Pallot, 1987, Pallot, 1990, Rowles, 1992, Walker et al., 1999, Walker et al., 2000a and Walker et al., 2000b). Previous research has presented arguments about the best methods of accounting for and reporting on infrastructure asset values (Burns, 1993, Currie, 1987, Hay, 1994, Lee, 1999 and Rowles, 1992; Van Daniker & Kwiatkowski, 1986; Walker et al., 1999, Walker et al., 2000a and Walker et al., 2000b). In addition to asset valuation, these authors suggested that other information such as maintenance, physical condition and performance measurement is relevant to stakeholders for decision-making. However, current reporting guidance mainly focuses on asset valuation. Such focus is a result of the adoption of the accrual basis of accounting and the money measurement convention as part of the public sector reform process. Within public sector infrastructure service industries, such as electricity, water and transport, structural reform through corporatisation and market competition was introduced with the aim of improving the efficiency of service provision in these “natural monopolies”. In parallel with this development, concern arose that corporatisation could weaken annual reporting on the grounds of commercial sensitivity (Coates, 1990a, Coates, 1990b, Guthrie, 1990 and Guthrie, 1993). Disclosure of information about infrastructure assets is important as corporatisation and market competition is often seen as a precursor to private sector involvement in the operation and provision of economic infrastructure services, particularly with the recent growth in public–private partnerships and the consideration of commercial confidentiality in outsourcing (Barrett, 2001; Grimsey & Lewis, 2002; Hilmer, Rayner, & Taperell, 1993; Walker & Walker, 2000). Transparency is critical to maintain public accountability under such dynamic environment (Barrett, 2001; Grimsey & Lewis, 2002; Parker & Gould, 1999; Productivity Commission, 1998). This paper is motivated by a concern to establish whether the relevant infrastructure asset information is disclosed. In particular, it seems likely that entities may not disclose relevant physical infrastructure asset information in their annual reports, if current reporting guidance remains narrowly focused on asset valuation. Few empirical studies have been conducted into reporting practices relating to infrastructure assets (e.g. Lee, 1999, Thomson, 1993 and Walker et al., 1999). Lee (1999) surveyed infrastructure asset reporting practices in New South Wales and the perceptions of users of public sector financial reports that provide information about infrastructure assets. User demand for information about maintenance, physical condition and asset management information was established. A gap was discovered between the information users expected and what had actually been reported in the annual reports. While the previous study focused on the state of New South Wales, this paper extends the scope of study to examine the reporting of information about infrastructure assets by federal government, other states and territories. Given the importance of disclosures of relevant infrastructure information by public sector entities and concerns regarding the transparency of corporatised public sector entities, this paper seeks to address the following research questions: 1. To what extent do public sector entities in Australian infrastructure industries disclose relevant information about infrastructure assets in their annual reports? 2. Is there a difference in the extent to which public sector entities established under Corporations Law (company state owned corporations)2 and other public sector entities (government departments, statutory authorities and statutory state owned corporations) disclose relevant information about infrastructure assets in their annual reports? An analysis of these questions should highlight the extent of disclosure of various types of information, and the degree to which reporting guidance and the use of corporate form affects disclosure. In the following sections, background literature related to the reporting of infrastructure assets by Australian public sector entities is considered. These include (1) an examination of the relevance of infrastructure asset information to users of annual reports; (2) a review of the public sector reform, the resulting structural and reporting changes and public sector reporting guidelines relating to infrastructure assets; and (3) a discussion of the incentives of public sector infrastructure service entities to disclose relevant information where reporting guidelines are limited. The research methods are then described. This is followed by an analysis of the reporting practices of 73 Australian public sector entities. In the final section, conclusions are drawn about the implications of current practices, and future research directions are identified.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this paper, the extent of disclosure relating to infrastructure assets information was examined. It was found that where disclosure was voluntary, a diverse, low level of reporting existed. The results suggested current reporting practices were mainly driven by the extent of reporting guidance. It also indicated the use of corporate form did not appear to explain the diversity in, and low level of, information disclosure. The low level of disclosure supports the argument by previous research that a gap exists between information considered relevant by users and those disclosed in the annual reports (Lee, 1999; Van Daniker & Kwiatkowski, 1986; Walker et al., 1999). As both corporatised entities and other government entities are accountable to the general public, it is expected that they should disclose more relevant information about the operation and management of infrastructure assets. The results also highlight areas where attention is required, particularly maintenance, physical condition and performance measurement information. Given the relevance of such information to stakeholders, there is a need to enhance the level of disclosure of such information. Further research can be conducted in several areas. Firstly, given the low level of disclosure in maintenance and non-financial information about infrastructure assets, there is a need to further explore the reporting issues in these areas and identify the way disclosure of non-financial information can be encouraged. Secondly, this study only focuses on the level of reporting guidance and the use of corporate form in relation to the level of information disclosure, it is worthwhile to analyse other motivating factors for voluntary disclosure of information on infrastructure assets in the annual reports, such as the influence of various stakeholder groups. The influence of various contextual factors can be analysed by using more formal statistical analysis to provide further insights as to how the quality of infrastructure reporting can be enhanced. Thirdly, given the increasing involvement of private sector entities and the use of commercial confidentiality in the operations of government trading enterprises providing economic infrastructure services, the transparency issues of such entities should be further addressed and in what way the level of transparency can be enhanced. Lastly, this study is limited to issues confronted by different forms of public sector entities. Future research could be conducted to compare the reporting of infrastructure assets by corporatised public sector entities to those private sector corporations engaging in economic infrastructure services, and to investigate if similar reporting standards should be adopted for these different forms of entities, which provide similar types of services