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Public sector financial management in New Zealand central government: the role of public sector accountants

John Gill (Accounting Evangelist, Wellington, New Zealand)
Umesh Sharma (School of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management

ISSN: 1096-3367

Article publication date: 27 September 2022

Issue publication date: 24 January 2023




This paper aims to examine the actions of public sector accountants in the New Zealand government departments as they respond to the demands of the Central Treasury.


The analysis is developed through an understanding of the secondary literature and practical experience of the first author who worked in the New Zealand public sector as a public sector accountant from 1972 to 1998. Both authors have remained active in the public sector through research and practice. The first author's last three placements were being Director Financial Management in the Ministry of Energy, Assistant Secretary in the Department of Maori Affairs and finally as CFO at the Ministry of Education. The first author has been a close observer of the Budget and was a participant at the departmental level for over 20 years.


The public sector reforms have posed challenges for public sector accountants. The arrival of accrual output based budgeting shaped a reconfiguration of accountants' identities. The politicians made public sector accountants the central entity of accrual output based budgeting and thus responsible for increasing public sector efficiency.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to public sector in New Zealand only.

Practical implications

This study would be of use to practitioners interested in the pressures and opportunities which arise out of a particular constellation of administrative roles.

Social implications

The administrative history, in particular, by senior officers is often unwritten for the public sector offices.


This is a descriptive piece on the role of public sector accountants and contributes to the understanding of how financial accountability works within the New Zealand Central Government.



Gill, J. and Sharma, U. (2023), "Public sector financial management in New Zealand central government: the role of public sector accountants", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 65-72.



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