Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to address you today. As the title of my presentation suggests, I am going to talk about public sector financial reporting and why we need to raise our expectations of governments. However, I want to frame my comments in the context of our expectations of financial reporting in the private sector. Over recent years our expectations of the quality of financial reporting and auditing in the private sector have increased dramatically, and the efforts that have been devoted to achieving those changed expectations have been enormous. I wish to contrast this with what has happened, or more accurately, what has not happened, in the public sector.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that nothing has happened in the public sector. Indeed I have been personally involved in some of that change, as, I am sure, have many of you. However, I do observe a large gulf between the inclination of governments internationally to act to enhance private sector financial reporting and the relative lack of urgency devoted to improving their own financial reporting and financial management. Let me begin with some comments on corporate failures and the response of regulators and the accountancy profession to those failures.