Governmental accounting ethics

Providing accountability to maintain the public trust

Authored by: Patrick T. Kelly

The Routledge Handbook of Accounting Ethics

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138591967
eBook ISBN: 9780429490224
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429490224-19

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Abstract

In this chapter I explore ethics in governmental accounting. There are tens of thousands of professionals who work in government accounting-related positions, including those working for federal, state, and local government organizations. These public stewards contribute to the effective and efficient use of government resources to achieve organizational goals while providing for asset accountability that earns the public trust. This chapter reviews the ethical guidelines for those who work in government accounting, highlighting the consistencies between various standards. Guided by these ethical principles, government accountants and financial professionals generally perform their duties honorably and proficiently, with the vast majority maintaining a high level of ethics as they carry out their responsibilities. While ethical lapses by government accounting and finance professionals have not been extensively documented, unethical actions, particularly instances of fraud, have occasionally been committed. This chapter includes a few notable examples where governmental accountants and financial professionals have not acted morally. I then discuss the development of internal controls, along with fraud prevention and detection programs, that can curb such ethical violations. I conclude by examining the vital role that ethics plays as government accountants and financial professionals perform their duties, which promotes accountability and helps maintain public trust in government organizations.

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