Effective financial management is critical to public sector entities being able to meet their policy and service delivery responsibilities. An important aspect of financial management and stewardship, and the primary mechanism by which entities meet their financial accountability obligations, is the preparation and publication of annual audited financial statements in entities’ annual reports.

It is generally acknowledged that the timely finalisation of an entity’s financial statements, accompanied by an unmodified auditor’s report, is an important indicator of the effectiveness of an entity’s financial management performance. Sound financial management fosters confidence in the entity on the part of Ministers, the Parliament and other stakeholders. As such, entities should give appropriate priority to the preparation of their financial statements and the necessary systems, procedures, and practices that underpin them.

The environment in which entities are required to prepare their annual financial statements continues to be a challenging one. Ongoing enhancements to accounting standards, changes to the Government’s financial framework and resource pressures are some of the issues faced by entities in preparing accurate and timely audited financial statements.

This Guide updates and replaces the Guide issued in June 2013. The Guide reflects the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and includes: a discussion and associated examples that are designed to assist entities to achieve more informative financial reporting; and includes a discussion on some of the implications of a shared services environment on the preparation of an entity’s financial statements.

While much of this Guide provides practical guidance material relating to the preparation of financial statements, it is recognised that the underpinning management and internal control regimes need to be functioning effectively if an entity’s financial statements are to comply with legislative and policy requirements, and are to be produced in a timely manner.

As no two entities are the same and their financial statement preparation processes involve different levels of complexity and risk, the material in the Guide should be interpreted, customised and used in the context of each entity’s own particular circumstances. Entities also need to be alert to ongoing legislative and policy changes.

The following checklists and other material from the Guide, which can be customised and used to suit individual entity circumstances, are available to download at Related documents on this page.

  • Item 1: Checklist for the Chief Financial Officer (Excel file)
  • Item 2: Checklist of changes in the business environment
  • Item 3: Example work plan
  • Item 4: Example instructions on the preparation of the financial statements
  • Item 5: Example financial statements risk analysis
  • Item 6: Example audit assistance package
  • Item 7: Example documentation requirements
  • Item 8: Proforma working papers and supporting lead schedule and checklist
  • Item 9: Examples of improving the presentation of financial statements
  • Item 10: Proforma accounting adjustments register
  • Item 11: Example management sign-off
  • Item 12: Proforma Chief Financial Officer report
  • Item 13: Checklist for the Audit Committee (Excel file)
  • Item 14: Checklist for restructures