Year

2013

Degree Name

Master of Accountancy - Research

Department

School of Accounting and Finance

Abstract

Purpose: Effective financial fraud control requires all Commonwealth agencies to comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines (Attorney-General's Department and Australian National Audit Office, 2004). The focus of this research is the implementation and adoption of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines in Australian public organisations over the period 2008-09; 2009-10; and 2010-11. The implementation of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines has taken place in the public sector since the Australian Government launched its Guidelines in 2002 (Attorney-General's Department, 2011). These Guidelines came as a part of the new direction in the Australian public sector, which is known as New Public Management (NPM), in order to improve government performance and enhance financial public accountability. The aim of this study, thus, is to report on the extent of compliance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines by Australian Commonwealth Government Organisations, to determine if these Guidelines contribute to the discharge of public financial accountability.

Research Design: This relatively small study applies a qualitative content analysis to annual reporting of selected Australian public agencies. Content analysis is used in this study to explore the relationship between the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines and their application, if any, by Australian agencies over the period 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11. It intends also to identify the extent to which such application has helped to enhance performance and financial public accountability.

The theoretical orientation adopted in this study is built on Institutional Theory. Institutional theory is mainly built on the view that organisations are social systems (Scott, 2001) and thus it is employed as a theoretical frame to find out why organisations adopt particular practices, policies, and procedures (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Meyer & Rowan, 1977), and also to explain their actions that are driven by environmental pressures (Scott, 2001). Institutional theorists emphasise that organisations are not only productive bodies, but also social and cultural systems (Scott, 2001). The use of institutional theory as the overall orientation to this study would give a lens through which the collected data can be explored. Thus, it serves as an analytical framework to explore the findings that emerged using the tools of content analysis of various public agencies’ documents.

Findings: The collected data of this study has shown that Australian Public Agencies have highly complied with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines over the period of the study. This high degree of compliance among the study sample would demonstrate that the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines do contribute to public sector financial accountability. The high degree of compliance of public agencies with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines can be seen as indicating they are simply accepted in order to obtain or maintain legitimacy in their institutional environment (Meyer & Rowan, 1977).

Originality/value: The main contribution of this research is to fill the gap in government accounting literature, in relation to the management of fraud risk and public accountability. In particular, this research hopes to contribute to the academic literature in relation to the accountability process of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines. This is because there appears to be no empirical evidence that indicates to date, the implementation of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines in government agencies. The findings of this study will be valuable to both theoretical and empirical studies in the area of fraud control and compliance with the guidelines. In particular, this research has the potential to assist and improve the quality of the governmental and individual accountability to the public and the Parliament.

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