The Implementation of Resource Accounting in UK Central Government

David Albert Heald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At the end of a long process of transition from cash accounting, UK central government departments discharged their public accountability in 2001–02 by presenting Departmental Resource Accounts (DRAs) to Parliament. This article assesses the implementation of Resource Accounting, focusing on timeliness (measured by certification lags) and accounts quality (measured by the property of not being qualified). The descriptive statistics indicate substantial variation in certification lag. The estimated OLS regression model has strong explanatory power. Explanatory variables include those that can be regarded as enduring and those that are attributable to the transition process. The enduring variables are: new DRA, consolidation, audit qualification and pension scheme (whose statistically significant positive coefficients show that these are associated with longer certification lags) and percentage of Appropriations-in-Aid (statistically significant negative coefficient). The transitional variables are Executive Agency and a dummy for 2001–02 (whose statistically significant negative coefficients show that these are associated with shorter certification lags). Potential for shorter certification lags is identified, as are administrative deficiencies that delay the arrival of some certified DRAs into the public domain. Accounts quality improved during the transition period, though problems still occur in some departments that are important in terms of expenditure and assets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-190
Number of pages28
JournalFinancial Accountability & Management
Issue number2
Early online date21 Apr 2005
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • resource accounting
  • audit lags
  • timeliness
  • central government accounting reform


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