Government Accounting

Key Points:

  • Government accounting is the recording and management of financial activities of governments at Commonwealth, state and local levels.
  • Government accountants prepare and review financial documentation for the government and its taxpayers.
  • Government accountants work in a range of organisations, including large departments, regulatory agencies, and ‘coalface’ public service providers.

Government accounting involves using the traditional skills of the accountant to manage public funds and adhere to legislation and regulations. Accountants in this role also investigate white-collar crime, prepare annual Budget papers, perform financial statement audits for government agencies, and conduct research on emerging accounting issues at all levels of government.

Government accountants are required to adapt to changing legislation along with general accounting standards and ensure financial activities balance the needs of the government with the needs of the communities they serve.

Sarah Colgan CA"Working as a CA in the public sector has given me a wealth of opportunities. I have worked in financial analysis, accounting, budgeting, consolidations and eliminations, financial audit, and stakeholder and people management – and that's just my first seven years! I have built a strong network of professional contacts that I draw upon for information, advice and friendship. I value being part of something greater and using my skills to serve the public."
Sarah Colgan CA, Manager, Finance & Investment at Victorian Legal Services Board and Commission.

Why government accounting could be the right fit for you

While government accountants are responsible for reviewing and recording the financial activities of the government, they can also contribute to the development of tax, budget funding, commercial and other financial policy.

Government accountants’ familiarity with government structures, functions and financial policies means they have the ability to understand and translate financial data into meaningful reports that can be used, for example, as evidence in court hearings regarding white-collar crime and financial malpractice investigations.

Working as a government accountant can open the door to a vast range of career opportunities and a wide and valuable network of colleagues across the public sector.

If you have an interest in governance and government structures, and are comfortable asking tough questions, investigating sensitive issues and uncovering hidden accounting problems, a career as a government accountant could be for you.

Who can you work for?

Government accountants work in the public sector at Commonwealth, state and local levels.

Key skills:

  • Analytics and problem solving
  • Commercial and business awareness
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Interpersonal and stakeholder engagement
  • Eye for detail
  • Risk management
  • Policy and government regulation