Preserving hopes in accounting reforms - the case of WGA

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IMPACT: This article illuminates the longstanding challenges faced by Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) and how its frequently asserted significance rests more on its claimed potential than its demonstrable impact. Various ‘mechanisms of hope’ have been used to justify and sustain the reform, while also shifting attention away from the problematic nature of WGA's practical application. Accounting must move beyond the world of possibilities to demonstrating the positive, practical difference(s) it has made. In contemplating how to account for the whole of government, there is an ongoing need to envisage and debate what government represents and what needs to be in place if government itself is to achieve what is expected of it by those it governs. Overall, the article provides a timely reminder that the fundamental value of accounting rests in, and needs to be judged on, much more than the mere production of new or different sets of accounts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Money and Management
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2024


  • Accountability
  • Whole of Government Accounts (WGA)
  • accounting reforms
  • balance sheet
  • consolidated government accounts
  • hope
  • public accounts committee
  • public financial management


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