Understanding Financial Management and Budgets in the Public Sector

Recommend course:



This two-day course covers both the financial management systems and processes, as well as the whole of government budget and budgeting process in the public sector.

Who should attend:

This is particularly relevant for public sector managers or anyone who works in government departments or crown entities who has responsibility for a budget.

If you need to know about Public sector finance but don't have budget responsibility, then check out Public Sector Finance Fundamentals.

Learning objectives:

  • Learn key concepts underpinning the financial management and budget systems and how these provide the framework for financial recommendations in policy initiatives.
  • Understand the accountability framework, including roles of the Treasury, Ministers, auditors, Select Committees in the accountability cycle that creates the context within which staff are empowered to expend resources.
  • Examine the art of accounting: the terminology; how the numbers are built on assumptions, estimates and biases; the difference between accrual and cash reporting, and how this impacts on the performance of your public sector organisation.
  • Understand the difference between operating and capital expenditure, the importance of depreciation, and the cost of capital.
  • Learn how the Budget process works
  • Examine how to effectively build and manage a budget—what you can and can’t control, and the importance of the assumptions behind the numbers, and how internal budgets sit within the context of the overall plans for the organisation and the external budget process.

Course outline:

Day One:

  • Understanding financial management concepts
  • The Government—what types of entities?
  • Concepts underlying the Government’s financial system:
    • Purchase/ownership
    • Inputs, outputs, outcomes
    • Departmental/non-departmental
    • Capital/expense.
  • The accountability framework
  • Understanding financial information:
    • Accounting reports and how they can help you manage your resources.
  • Using accounting concepts to help you manage: what needs to be included in the costing for policy proposals
    • What are accruals?
    • Concepts—revenue and expenses, assets, liabilities
    • Importance of accounting policies
    • Depreciation, provisions and capital charge
    • Cost allocation
    • Reporting standards
  • Incentive effects in reporting
    • How does accounting information affect behaviour?

Day Two:

  • Understanding budgeting concepts
  • Understanding the Budget    
  • The external Budget cycle
    • Baselines
    • Purpose of a budget
    • Main stages in the budget process including:
      • Roles of the Treasury, Minister(s) and the Select Committee
      • Imprest Supply
    • Appropriations
    • Flexibility—transfer of appropriations
    • Unauthorised Expenditure
  • The internal budget
    • Coding and chart of accounts
    • Cost allocation and cost types
    • Output budgeting
  • Audit and value for money
  • Business Cases

Course format:

This course emphasises the practical application of the concepts covered. Real-world examples will be used.


Lynley Hutton

Further details:
If you would like more information about this programme, please contact us on:
Ph: 64 4 463 6556 Email: profdev@vuw.ac.nz

Customised workshops:
Victoria Professional and Executive Development are able to customise many of our workshops to meet specific individual or organisational requirements. Please contact us for further information.

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