Costing government outputs: an assessment of activity based costing

Article


Hampson, Veronica, Best, Peter and Kavanagh, Marie. 2014. "Costing government outputs: an assessment of activity based costing." Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge. 20 (1), pp. 24-32.
Article Title

Costing government outputs: an assessment of activity based costing

ERA Journal ID36097
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsHampson, Veronica (Author), Best, Peter (Author) and Kavanagh, Marie (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge
Journal of the American Academy of Business, Cambridge
Journal Citation20 (1), pp. 24-32
Number of Pages9
Year2014
Place of PublicationUnited States
ISSN1540-1200
Web Address (URL)http://jaabc.com/jaabcv20n1preview.html
Abstract

This research investigates the application of activity-based costing (ABC) practices for achieving an outcomes based performance management (OBPM) in an Australian State Government. The extent to which this approach is adopted and applied by the case study agency is examined. A mixed-method research approach was used, incorporating document analysis and case study interviews, to assess the effectiveness of implementation of ABC in the agency. Concerns are raised about the degree to which ABC is adequate, in the current state of implementation, for enabling the agency to know whether or not it is measuring the true costs of the outputs that contribute to the long term outcomes desired by the Government. Traditionally, public sector managers have not been concerned with issues such as costing of services because data of this type was rarely requested. The traditional public sector financial management platform gave a vertical view of each agency: a view that focused on departmental blocks of expenditure. This meant that agencies reported only on the resources consumed by work units within the agency. For accountability purposes, managers were held responsible for deviations between actual and budgeted expenditure. The gathering of costing data was rarely considered as was the idea of demonstrating an agency's contribution to the achievement of cost effectiveness and/or cost efficiency of its services (Foltin, 1999: p 45). It is said that 'necessity is the mother of invention' and there is a sense of urgency by government in placing a much greater emphasis on holding managers accountable for both the efficiency and effectiveness by which they achieve their program objectives. Indeed, the emphasis is to gather performance data, including costs, about the services delivered by agencies in order to better inform resource allocation decisions. This is the essence of outcomes based performance management (OBPM). The OBPM process is best described as a comprehensive and integrative planning, budgeting and performance management approach that identifies the outcomes that the Government desires for its communities and citizens; sets strategic direction and objectives; and decides on appropriate delivery options that support expected performance (Treasury Department, 1998: p 5). The key ingredients of an OBPM framework are the relationships of the costs of government programs to resources, and the achievement of an approved plan (Pitsvada & LoStracco, 2002). The application of activity based costing (ABC) is a critical success factor in meeting these requirements (Cunningham & Harris, 2000). The aim of this research is to investigate the application of ABC in an Australian State Government for calculating the cost of products and services delivered by agencies and for assessing the efficiency and effectiveness in delivery of these services. Given that ABC is the recommended costing approach for such purposes within the State public sector, the extent to which this approach is adopted and applied by the case study agency is examined. The aim of this research is to understand whether there is a difference between ABC-in-use and intended-ABC. Literature in this area has tended to fall into a number of categories:(i) identification, measurement and analyses of costs associated with producing products or services (Greasley, 2001); (ii) the comparisons of the traditional costing approaches and contemporary ABC method (Kaplan, 1985); and, (iii) the potential benefits and possible reasons for failure of ABC implementations (Pierce & Brown, 2006). Much of the research surrounding costing methodologies, particularly ABC, has been conducted in the private sector and primarily in the manufacturing industry (Cooper & Kaplan, 1987). While there are a number of studies conducted in the services sector (Goddard & Ooi, 1998) there is a limited number that examine costing approaches within a public sector environment. These studies are of importance to this research because they provide detail of the models that may be appropriate for calculating the cost of products and services delivered by public sector agencies. Furthermore, they contribute to an enhanced understanding of how costing data may assist agencies in assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of their service delivery.

Keywordsactivity based costing; management accoounting; government costing
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350105. Management accounting
440708. Public administration
350101. Accounting theory and standards
Public Notes

© 2015 JAABC. No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher. Paper originally presented at the The Economics, Finance, MIS and International Business Research Conference, 10-13 Jul 2014, London, U.K. Access restricted at request of lead author.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Accounting, Economics and Finance
Griffith University
School of Commerce
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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Individual values and organizational culture during a merger process - immovable objects or shifting sands
Kavanagh, Marie. 2003. "Individual values and organizational culture during a merger process - immovable objects or shifting sands." Brown, Alan (ed.) 17th Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference (ANZAM 2003). Fremantle, Australia 02 - 05 Dec 2003 Australia.
Management approaches to merger evoked cultural change and acculturation outcomes
Kavanagh, Marie and Ashkanasy, Neal M.. 2004. "Management approaches to merger evoked cultural change and acculturation outcomes." Cooper, C. L. and Finkelstein, S. (ed.) Advances in Mergers and Acquisitions . United Kingdom . Emerald. pp. 1-33
Studies in tourism and travel management: embracing change, incorporating technology, and meeting industry needs in the new millenium
Kavanagh, Marie and Cassidy, Frances. 1999. "Studies in tourism and travel management: embracing change, incorporating technology, and meeting industry needs in the new millenium." Molloy, Janine and Davies, Jenny (ed.) 9th Annual Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education Conference (CAUTHE 1999). Adelaide, Australia 10 - 13 Feb 1999 Canberra, Australia.
The roles of some key stakeholders in the future of accounting education in Australia
Hancock, Philip, Howieson, Bryan, Kavanagh, Marie, Kent, Jenny, Tempone, Irene, Segal, Naomi and Freeman, Mark. 2009. "The roles of some key stakeholders in the future of accounting education in Australia." Australian Accounting Review. 19 (3), pp. 249-260. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1835-2561.2009.00061.x
The application of management accounting for achieving public sector outcomes-based performance management in Queensland - a case study
Hampson, Veronica M.-M.. 2009. The application of management accounting for achieving public sector outcomes-based performance management in Queensland - a case study. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Managing teaching and learning environments to facilitate curriculum change
Kavanagh, Marie and Brown, A. M.. 2005. "Managing teaching and learning environments to facilitate curriculum change." Weaver, K. Mark (ed.) 64th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2005. Honolulu, United States 05 - 10 Aug 2005 Honolulu, US.
Learning communities - creating positive outcomes for students in large accounting classes through mentoring
Kavanagh, Marie. 2005. "Learning communities - creating positive outcomes for students in large accounting classes through mentoring." Annual Meeting of the American Accounting Association (AAA 2005). San Francisco, United States 07 - 10 Aug 2005 Sarasota, FL. United States.
The impact of leadership and change management strategy on organizational culture and individual acceptance of change during a merger
Kavanagh, Marie and Ashkanasy, Neal M.. 2006. "The impact of leadership and change management strategy on organizational culture and individual acceptance of change during a merger." British Journal of Management. 17 (Supplement), pp. S81-S103. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2006.00480.x
Peer assisted study sessions: guidelines for structural and operational success in multi-disciplinary learning communities
Miller, Valda, Oldfield, Elwyn, Cook, Averil, Jordan, Graham and Kavanagh, Marie. 2008. "Peer assisted study sessions: guidelines for structural and operational success in multi-disciplinary learning communities." Thomas, Jason (ed.) 11th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference (FYHE 2008). Hobart, Australia 30 Jun - 02 Jul 2008 Brisbane, Australia.
Machine-independent audit trail analysis - a tool for continuous audit assurance
Best, Peter J.. 2004. "Machine-independent audit trail analysis - a tool for continuous audit assurance." Intelligent Systems in Accounting, Finance and Management. 12 (2), pp. 85-102. https://doi.org/10.1002/isaf.243
What skills and attributes does an accounting graduate need? Evidence from student perceptions and employer expectations
Kavanagh, Marie H. and Drennan, Lyndal. 2008. "What skills and attributes does an accounting graduate need? Evidence from student perceptions and employer expectations." Accounting and Finance. 48 (2), pp. 279-300. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-629x.2007.00245.x
The current state of information technology governance literature
Buckby, Sherrena, Best, Peter and Stewart, Jenny. 2009. "The current state of information technology governance literature." Cater-Steel, Aileen (ed.) Information technology governance and service management: frameworks and adaptations. Hershey, PA. USA. IGI Global. pp. 1-43
The whole of university experience: retention, attrition, learning and personal support interventions during undergraduate business studies
Willcoxson, Lesley, Manning, Mark, Wynder, Monte, Hibbins, Ray, Joy, Sally, Thomas, Jan, Leask, Betty, Girardi, Antonia, Sidoryn, Tristana, Cotter, Julie, Kavanagh, Marie, Troedson, David and Lynch, Bernadette. 2011. The whole of university experience: retention, attrition, learning and personal support interventions during undergraduate business studies. Sydney, Australia. Australian Learning and Teaching Council Limited.
Auditing and assurance services in Australia: an integrated approach, 7th ed.
Arens, Alvin A., Best, Peter, Shailer, Gregory, Fiedler, Brenton, Elder, Randal J. and Beasley, Mark. 2007. Auditing and assurance services in Australia: an integrated approach, 7th ed. Sydney, Australia. Pearson Education Australia.
Carbon reporting in the Queensland public Sector: the state of play, trends and better practices
Shead, Bob, Best, Peter J. and McCabe, Simon. 2009. Carbon reporting in the Queensland public Sector: the state of play, trends and better practices. Brisbane, Australia. BDO (Australia) Ltd..
BDO not-for-profit fraud survey 2010
Howard, Andrew and Best, Peter J.. 2010. BDO not-for-profit fraud survey 2010. Brisbane, Australia. BDO (Australia) Ltd..
Accounting for the future
Hancock, Phil, Howieson, Bryan, Kavanagh, Marie, Kent, Jenny, Tempone, Irene and Segal, Naomi. 2010. "Accounting for the future." Evans, Elaine, Burritt, Roger and Guthrie, James (ed.) Accounting education at a crossroads in 2010. Sydney, Australia. Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. pp. 54-62
Government outcomes: are residents and the community better off?
Hampson, Veronica M.-M. and Kavanagh, Marie. 2010. "Government outcomes: are residents and the community better off?" Giner, Begona (ed.) 33rd Annual Congress of the European Accounting Association. Istanbul, Turkey 19 - 21 May 2010 Brussels, Belgium.
Critical pre-implementation elements in engendering change for sustainability in SMEs: insights from SME sustainability leaders
Wiesner, Retha, Chadee, Doren and Best, Peter J.. 2010. "Critical pre-implementation elements in engendering change for sustainability in SMEs: insights from SME sustainability leaders." O'Connor, Christine (ed.) 10th Annual Pacific Employment Relations Association Conference (PERA 2010) : Sustainability, Inclusiveness and Governance: People Management Issues in the Organisation of the Future. Gold Coast, Australia 15 - 18 Nov 2010 Ballarat, Australia.
Managing environmental sustainability in SMEs: learning from the stars: a research report on developing a best practice framework for managing environmental sustain-ability in Australian small and medium size enterprises (SMEs)
Wiesner, Retha, Chadee, Doren, Best, Peter J. and Poole, Nicci. 2010. Managing environmental sustainability in SMEs: learning from the stars: a research report on developing a best practice framework for managing environmental sustain-ability in Australian small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). Toowoomba, Australia. University of Southern Queensland.
A literature review of work integrated learning (WIL) in accounting: developments in the last decade and future directions
Leong, Raymond and Kavanagh, Marie. 2010. "A literature review of work integrated learning (WIL) in accounting: developments in the last decade and future directions." Campbell, Matthew (ed.) ACEN 2010: Work Integrated Learning (WIL): Responding to Challenges . Perth, Australia 29 Sep - 01 Oct 2010 Melbourne, Australia.
An assessment model in a business work integrated learning capstone project
Leong, Raymond and Kavanagh, Marie. 2010. "An assessment model in a business work integrated learning capstone project." Campbell, Matthew (ed.) ACEN 2010: Work Integrated Learning (WIL): Responding to Challenges . Perth, Australia 29 Sep - 01 Oct 2010 Melbourne, Australia.
A work integrated learning (WIL) framework to incorporate accounting graduate skills and attributes through accounting and business courses
Leong, Raymond and Kavanagh, Marie. 2010. "A work integrated learning (WIL) framework to incorporate accounting graduate skills and attributes through accounting and business courses." Campbell, Matthew (ed.) ACEN 2010: Work Integrated Learning (WIL): Responding to Challenges . Perth, Australia 29 Sep - 01 Oct 2010 Melbourne, Australia.
Stakeholders' perspectives of the skills and attributes for accounting graduates
Kavanagh, Marie, Hancock, Philip, Howieson, Bryan, Kent, Jenny and Tempone, Irene. 2009. "Stakeholders' perspectives of the skills and attributes for accounting graduates." Segel, Naomi (ed.) 2009 Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (2009 AFAANZ). Adelaide, Australia 05 - 07 Jul 2010 Melbourne, Australia. Accounting & Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand.
Publishing accounting education research
Kavanagh, Marie. 2004. "Publishing accounting education research." 2004 Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (2004 AFAANZ). Alice Springs, Australia 04 - 06 Jul 2004 Melbourne, Vic, Australia. Accounting & Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand.
IS audit issues with enterprise management systems
Green, Peter F. and Best, Peter J.. 2003. "IS audit issues with enterprise management systems." 2003 Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (2003 AFAANZ) . Brisbane, Australia 06 - 08 Jul 2003 Melbourne, Australia.
A framework for assessing the effectiveness of performance measurement practices
Hampson, Veronica M.-M. and Best, Peter J.. 2005. "A framework for assessing the effectiveness of performance measurement practices." 3rd Conference On Performance Measurement And Management Control. Nice, France 22 - 23 Sep 2005
Graduate attributes and skills: are we as accounting academics delivering the goods?
Kavanagh, Marie and Drennan, Lyndal. 2007. "Graduate attributes and skills: are we as accounting academics delivering the goods?" 2007 Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (2007 AFAANZ). Gold Coast, Australia 01 - 03 Jul 2007 Melbourne, Australia. Accounting & Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand.
What turns students on to accounting? Is it a matter of perceived image and personality?
Baxter, Peter J. and Kavanagh, Marie. 2008. "What turns students on to accounting? Is it a matter of perceived image and personality?" 2008 Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (2008 AFAANZ). Sydney, Australia 06 - 08 Jul 2008 Carlton, Vic, Australia. Accounting & Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand.
Accounting for the future: more than numbers: a collaborative investigation into the changing skill set for professional accounting graduates over the next ten years and strategies for embedding such skills into professional accounting programs: Vols.1 and 2
Hancock, Philip, Howieson, Bryan, Kavanagh, Marie, Kent, Jenny, Tempone, Irene and Segal, Naomi. 2009. Accounting for the future: more than numbers: a collaborative investigation into the changing skill set for professional accounting graduates over the next ten years and strategies for embedding such skills into professional accounting programs: Vols.1 and 2. Perth, Western Australia. University of Western Australia.
Continuous fraud detection in enterprise systems through audit trial analysis
Best, Peter J., Rikhardsson, Pall and Toleman, Mark. 2009. "Continuous fraud detection in enterprise systems through audit trial analysis." Journal of Digital Forensics, Security and Law. 4 (1), pp. 39-60.
The accounting information systems curriculum: compliance with IFAC requirements
Chayeb, Lwana and Best, Peter J.. 2005. "The accounting information systems curriculum: compliance with IFAC requirements." International Conference on Innovation in Accounting Teaching and Learning (2005). Hobart, Australia 06 - 08 Feb 2005 Hobart, Australia.
Information systems audit and control issues with enterprise management systems: qualitative evidence
Green, Peter F., Best, Peter J., Indulska, Marta and Rowlands, Terry. 2005. "Information systems audit and control issues with enterprise management systems: qualitative evidence." Australian Accounting Review. 15 (3), pp. 68-77.
The role of boards in reviewing information technology governance (ITG) as part of organizational control environment assessments
Buckby, Sherrena, Best, Peter J. and Stewart, Jenny. 2005. "The role of boards in reviewing information technology governance (ITG) as part of organizational control environment assessments." Cusack, B. (ed.) 2005 IT Governance International Conference. Auckland, New Zealand 14 - 16 Nov 2005
Development of a board IT governance (ITG) review model
Buckby, Sherrena and Best, Peter J.. 2007. "Development of a board IT governance (ITG) review model." 2007 Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (2007 AFAANZ). Gold Coast, Australia 01 - 03 Jul 2007 Melbourne, Australia.
Click go the students, click-click-click: the efficacy of a student response system for engaging students to improve feedback and performance
Mula, Joseph M. and Kavanagh, Marie. 2009. "Click go the students, click-click-click: the efficacy of a student response system for engaging students to improve feedback and performance." e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship of Teaching. 3 (1), pp. 1-17.
A framework for separation of duties in an SAP R/3 environment
Little, Adam G. and Best, Peter J.. 2003. "A framework for separation of duties in an SAP R/3 environment." Managerial Auditing Journal. 18 (5), pp. 419-430. https://doi.org/10.1108/02686900310476882
Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, internal control, and ERP systems: the case of mySAP ERP
Rikhardsson, Pall, Best, Peter and Juhl-Christensen, Claus. 2008. "Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, internal control, and ERP systems: the case of mySAP ERP." Ferran, Carlos and Salim Kuossa, Ricardo (ed.) Enterprise resource planning for global economies: managerial issues and challenges. Hershey PA, USA. IGI Global.