Government Accounting: Meaning, Certifications, Jobs, Standards

government accounting

Government accounting aims to eliminate waste in government services and strike a balance between optimal expenditure and services by efficiently managing government assets and sources. Find out more on this topic of government accounting as you read further. Discover also, the government accounting association, certificate, jobs, and standards. So, keep reading!

Government Accounting

Government accounting is the process of recording and managing the government’s financial transactions, which include both revenues and expenditures. However, numerous public sector entities utilize a variety of governmental accounting systems and associations. For example, in the United States, there are two levels of government that adhere to distinct accounting standards established by independent, private-sector boards. The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) establishes the accounting standards to be followed at the federal level. Similarly, for state and local governments, there is the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).

Government accounting jobs aim to eliminate waste in government services and to strike a balance between optimal expenditure and services by efficiently managing government assets and sources. This balance can only be achieved by timely obtaining complete and accurate data. Perhaps, from the government’s accounting system. Due to the low level of knowledge required by users of government accounting systems, it has been recorded on a cash basis for many years.

>> Read More: Fund Accounting: definition, basics, salary, jobs (+ Quick Guide).

However, as the government’s area of operation and needs grew, it became clear that the cash basis system was deficient in certain areas. As a result, it began to concentrate on financial transaction recording and reporting. Meanwhile, these deficiencies in the accounting system were attempted to be addressed through a new regulation. By concentrating on the areas where the cash basis accounting system fell short, a shift occurred in the application of the accrual basis in the areas of government accounting and financial reporting.

Moreover, the purpose of this topic is to explain the historical development of government accounting through the use of case studies from various countries, most notably Turkey. Following a review of the literature and an examination of countries’ government accounting practices. Which determined that the government accounting practices transitioned correctly from cash to accrual accounting.

>> Learn More: Introduction to Financial Accounting

Government Accounting Jobs

While accountants work at all levels of government, one of the most visible federal entities is the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, nonpartisan agency that serves as Congress’s investigative arm. The GAO conducts audits of government agency operations to determine whether federal funds are being spent efficiently and effectively. As well as investigations into allegations of illegal and improper activity. Every two years, the GAO publishes a list of government programs at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement (The Watchdog Report).

Internal Revenue Service

According to the IRS, the agency’s accounting professionals:

  • Accounting systems are designed, developed, operated, and inspected by accounting professionals.
  • Establish accounting standards, policies, and procedures
  • Analyze, interpret, and evaluate accounting data, records, and reports
  • Advice and assistance with accounting or financial management

Meanwhile, the IRS employs accountants in a variety of capacities, including the following:

Internal Revenue Agents verify the accuracy of tax returns and typically handle complex income, sales, and excise tax returns for businesses and large corporations. Accounting courses of at least 30 hours are required for entry-level positions.

Tax specialists assist taxpayers with tax-related questions and conduct surveys, studies, and focus groups to determine the effectiveness of IRS products, services, and communications. Additionally, tax specialists create communication materials to assist individuals in voluntarily complying with the tax code. Six semester hours of accounting or passing an accounting proficiency test are the minimum requirements.

Tax compliance officers examine and investigate Individual and business taxpayers. According to the IRS, successful candidates typically have a business degree or equivalent and six semester hours of accounting or the ability to pass an accounting proficiency test.

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Government Accountant?

To fulfill the duties and responsibilities of a government accounting job, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and the ability to travel as needed are required. Certifications in the industry (such as Certified Public Accountant) are preferred but not always required.

What Is the Highest Paying Job in Accounting?

The position of vice president of finance is the most senior and highest-paid position in accounting. Achieving the position of vice president of finance requires, of course, a great deal of time and effort. The majority of employers expect candidates to have at least a master’s degree. A company’s vice president of finance reports directly to the president or CEO.

What Are the Three Stages of Government Accounting?

The three steps of government accounting, are

  • the collection.
  • the processing.
  • the reporting.

Government Accounting Association

The AGA is the only organization that serves professionals in federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private, nonprofit, and academic sectors. AGA provides the tools and support necessary for our 15,000 members to make a positive impact on the profession.

However, the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) is a professional association. Dedicated to serving financial professionals employed by the United States Government or any governmental agency. Meanwhile, the association of government accounting promotes its members’ interests in a variety of ways, including through publications, events, training, awards, and community-building efforts. Additionally, it provides professional education and establishes professional standards for public accounting competency.

As an AGA member, you will have access to a variety of benefits that will assist you in growing and succeeding in your career. Several significant advantages include the following:

  • AGA Chapters provide educational, leadership, and networking opportunities.
  • Four national training events per year at member rates, saving members more than $150 per event.
  • At least 14 hours of complimentary training on a variety of topics (a value of more than $360).
  • Members-only webinars are complimentary.
  • Advocacy; AGA makes significant contributions to the development of standards and policy on behalf of the government financial management profession.
  • A subscription to the Journal of Government Financial Management, the AGA’s peer-reviewed quarterly journal.
  • Discount on renewal fees for the CGFM

What Are the Benefits of Being a Government Accountant?

  • Subsidy for Public Transportation:  Employees of the government, both state and federal, are frequently eligible for public transportation subsidies.
  • Forgiveness of Student Loans:  The majority of federal employees are eligible for student loan forgiveness programs.
  • A Master’s Degree equates to a higher salary.
  • Work-Life Integration.
  • Roles in Forensic Accounting.

Certificate In Government Accounting

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is widely regarded as a prerequisite for government accounting work and is required for some positions. Additional government accounting specialty credentials are available through a variety of certifying agencies.

Certified Government Auditing Professional is a specialty certification. Offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) (CGAP). The exam for this certificate in government accounting covers the unique aspects of internal auditing in the public sector, including fund accounting, grant administration, legislative oversight, and confidentiality rights. This certification requires a bachelor’s or equivalent degree or an associate’s degree plus five years of experience working in a government environment. Additionally, candidates must have two years of auditing experience in a government setting.

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Another option is the Association of Government Accountants’ Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) credential. Which is an educational organization dedicated to improving public financial management. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. As well as two years of professional experience in the field of government financial management are required for certification.

The following three examinations for the CGFM cover the entire field of financial management in federal, state, and local governments:

  • The governmental environment encompasses all levels and branches of government. As well as the legal ramifications of the governmental environment and the budgeting process
  • Accounting, financial reporting, and budgeting in government
  • Financial management and control in government
>> More To Read: MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTING: A Comprehensive 2023 Guide (Updated)

Until June 2002, the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA) offered a government valuation analyst certification (GVA). This certification was later incorporated into the Accredited Valuation Analyst (AVA) credential. The AVA requirements for government-employed valuators, on the other hand, are distinct from those for other AVA applicants, and include the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree is a four-year college degree.
  • Two years of combined full-time experience in business valuation, as approved by the applicant’s immediate supervisor. As well as the applicable government-funded institution’s business valuation committee
  • Currently employed by a federal or state government agency with a GS-12 or equivalent rating.
  • Being an active member of the NACVA for government employees
  • Completing a sample case study or submitting a sanitized Fair Market Value (FMV) report successfully
  • Passing a five-hour comprehensive multiple-choice exam
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Government Accounting Standards

The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing accounting reporting standards. Also, generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), for state and local governments in the United States.

The Government Accounting Standards Board is a non-governmental organization that was founded in 1984. The board’s mission is to promote clear, consistent, transparent, and comparable financial reporting for state and local governments. However, the federal government is served by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASB). Taxpayers, municipal bondholders, legislators, and regulatory agencies rely on this financial data to help shape public policy and investment.

What Are the 4 Basic Functions of Government?

The basic functions of a government are to provide leadership, maintain order, provide public services, provide national security, provide economic security, and provide economic assistance.

How Many Types of Government Accounts Are There?

There are six levels of classification for government accounts: Major Heads (four digits), Sub-Major Heads (two digits), Minor Heads (three digits), Sub-Heads (two digits), Detailed Heads (two to three digits), and Object Heads (two or three digits).

How Many Sections Are in Government Accounting?

Based on what the Constitution says, the Government Accounts are kept in these three main sections. Consolidated Fund, Contingency Fund, and the Public Account.


Government accountants typically hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a closely related field that includes accounting courses. Certain accountants may begin their careers with an associate’s degree. Certain accountants combine a bachelor’s degree in business or finance with a master’s degree in accounting. As well as an MBA with an accounting concentration.

Anyone interested in government accounting jobs would be wise to take fund accounting or government accounting courses during their undergraduate studies. Certain schools offer a concentration in government accounting jobs as part of their bachelor’s degree programs in accounting or business. There are also continuing education and certificate programs available in fund accounting and government accounting association procedures. However, If you are qualified, with a good certificate, you can be part of a government accounting association.

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