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While accountants in practice and business deal with change in auditing practices and financial reporting standards, public sector accountants have also had to deal with change in the last 20 years.

Compulsory competitive tendering, the Private Finance Initiative and the introduction of internal markets have all challenged finance staff in town halls, schools and hospitals around the country.

In short, these accountants and finance chiefs have a new, dramatic set of practices to deal with, all designed to maximise efficiency and – in some cases – ensure returns on assets. Steve Freer, chief executive of public-sector institute CIPFA, insists the public-private divide is closing.

‘The gap continues to narrow to the extent it is difficult to think of a change or a theme that is not mirrored in the private sector,’ he said.

This week, features an analysis from our sister publication Financial Director on the extent of that convergence and how it affects public sector accountants.

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