Queen’s MPA827 Public Sector Financial Management

… one of the Specimen Courses in Public Financial Management

Click for syllabus

Click for syllabus

Course description

This course focuses on the tools and understanding that public managers in all parts of the public sector require to ensure the successful use of resources to carry out good public policy design, implementation and operation. The objective of the course is to give students a good understanding of the basic elements of public sector financial management. In achieving this, it will give students an understanding that financial considerations play in:

  • How the financial planning cycles of government and other public sector organizations affects policy decision-making
  • How to understand and interpret financial information
    • Basic accounting concepts
    • Financial statements
  • The elements of sound financial management in public sector organization
    • Resource allocation and costing
    • Budgeting in organizations
    • Budget reallocation and cuts
    • Cash forecasting
    • Management control
  • Elements of financial accountability both within public sector organization and outward to the public
    • Reporting
    • Accountability
    • Internal and external oversight

Andrew Graham (Summer 2016)


http://www.queensu.ca/sps/sites/webpublish.queensu.ca.spswww/files/files/Programs/Courses/MPA827_S2016.pdf, accessed 15 June 2016.

The very rich PowerPoint pdf files referenced in the Sessions below provide a total of 754 slides. They were provided for uploading to the Atlas by Andrew Graham on 13 June 2016. They can also be found on the instructor’s website at: http://www.andrewbgraham.ca/sps-827-financial-management-summer-term-2016.html (accessed 15 June 2016).

Syllabus link on Atlas


Additional description from the Syllabus

Learning Objectives

The course looks at public sector financial management from two perspectives, as outlined in the following diagram:



Are there any prerequisites? “Do I need to be good with numbers?”

This course assumes little or no previous formal training in financial management or accounting. In addition, no work experience is needed. It is an introductory and survey course, closely integrated into public administrations. Students will need to have or rapidly acquire some familiarity with Excel spreadsheets, but only at a rudimentary level. Templates are provided.


Canadian Public Sector Financial Management, Second Edition by Andrew Graham available through the Campus Bookstore or amazon.ca. Remember, it is the Second Edition, Green Cover.

Assignment due dates and basis of evaluation

Test 1 (20%): Due: May 8, 2016

Test 2 (20%): Due: May 29, 2016

Cash Management Exercise (50%): Due: June 26, 2016

Participation (10%): Includes attendance, class work, overall engagement, challenging assumptions and seeking clarifications

Late Assignments: Assignments that fail to meet these dates are subject to deduction. Material that is two weeks beyond the due date will not be considered. It is important that students communicate with me if circumstances beyond their control create deadline problems.

Session topics and readings

Session 1: Becoming a Financially Literate Manager in Government

Reading: Introduction, and Chapter 1, Financial Management in the Public Sector, Second Edition

PowerPoint: 1 INTRODUCTION.pptx (70 slides, 10 MB)

  • Objectives and structure of the Course
  • Assignments, Class Work
  • Financial literacy – personal and organizational
  • Financial Management in the Public Sector Context80
  • The public sector financial landscape
  • The architecture of financial management

Session 2: Accountability and Risk: Key Concepts in Framing Financial Management

Reading: Chapter 9, pp. 149-156 and Chapter 11, pp. 187-195. Additional Reading: Integrated Risk Management Implementation Guide, Section 5 – Using Risk Management Tools – available on my website but also on Moodle.

PowerPoint: 2 ACCOUNTABILITYANDRISK.pptx (60 slides, 6 MB)

  • Nature of public sector accountabilities and views of risk: public versus private?
  • Architecture of accountability in the financial management context
  • Conceptual framework for risk
  • Risk management – concept and process
  • The concept of financial risk
  • Risk tolerances
  • Risk in operations and financial control
  • Class Exercise

Session 3: Accounting Concepts

Reading: Chapter 2: Public Sector Accounting Principles/Accrual Budgeting and Accounting and Chapter 4, Accrual Accounting and Budgeting

PowerPoint: 3.ACCOUNTINGCONCEPTS.ppt (80 slides, 6 MB)

  • What accounting does: the purposes of accounting
  • Defining accounting – and some history
  • Financial accounting and management accounting
  • Users of accounting information: internal and external
  • Accounting standards: GAAP/IFMS – basic principles
  • Understanding the cash and accrual basis for accounting
  • Key definitions in accounting statements

Session 4: Understanding and Using Financial Statements

Reading: Chapter 3: Financial Statements

PowerPoint: 4.FINANCIALSTATEMENTS.pptx (93 slides, 7 MB)

  • Double entry accounting
  • Accounting Cycle
  • The fundamental accounting equation
  • Recording financial information:
    • Journal and ledger functions: follow the money
    • Debits and credits, T-accounts
  • Core financial statements:
    • Balance Sheet/ Statement of financial position
    • Income Statement/ Statement of operations
    • Cash Flows
    • Changes in Net Debt
  • Management Discussion and Analysis
  • Rations and Financial Analysis

Session 5: Budgets: What They Do and How They Do It

Reading: Chapter 5: Budgets: What they are and what they do. Although not required reading, Appendix A to Chapter 3, Budget Games People Play is posted and recommended.

PowerPoint: 5.BUDGETS.pptx (74 slides, 7 MB)

  • Understanding what a budget is in financial management terms, in policy terms and in operational terms
  • Budget architecture:
    • Budgets by general purpose: Operating and capital budgets
    • Types of operating budgets: line, function, program, performance
    • Flexible versus fixed budgets
    • Off budget expenditures and funds
    • Zero-based budgeting
  • The budget process
    • Planning
    • Budget cycles and the approval process
    • Building the budget
  • Budgets as a control tool

Session 6: Planning and Budgeting

Reading: Chapter 6, Planning and Budgeting and 7, Capital Planning and Budgeting

PowerPoint: 6.BUDGETINGTOOLS.ppt (75 slides, 5 MB)

  • Building budget success
  • Role of business cases
  • Turn the tables: what should senior managers look for in a good plan
  • Capital Budgeting
  • Cost Behaviour
  • Cost Benefit Analysis Tools
  • CBA
  • Time Value of Money and Net Present Value
  • Sensitivity Analysis

Session 7: Cutting Your Budget: Reductions and Reallocations

Reading: Chapter 8, Taking It Back: Reallocation and Budget Cutting

PowerPoint: 7.BUDGETREALLOCATION.ppt (56 slides, 5 MB)

  • Reallocation in the budget process: internal and external
  • Strategic reviews around the world
  • Cutting tools: how to cut
  • Risks, consequences and sustainability
  • Practical considerations for budget managers

Exercise: Group exercises in budget reduction strategies, reallocation management.

Session 8: Management Control: A Risk Based Approach

Reading: Chapter 9: Managerial Control

PowerPoint: 8.FINANCIAL CONTROL.ppt (58 slides, 3 MB)

  • The concept of managerial control
  • Risk and risk management
  • Management Control Framework – why and for whom?
  • Management Control Process
  • Core concept of variance
  • Materiality and due diligence
  • Tools of control

Sessions 9 and 10: Cash Management

The Main Assignment: Given the complex nature of the major assignment, it will be introduced in class and discussed. The assignment will be distributed in hard copy and posted along with any relevant Excel spreadsheets on June 3rd. Further, although this is an individual assignment, the second half of the lecture period on June 4th will be devoted to teams working in collaboration to better understand the case and issues that are involved.

Reading: Chapter 10: Cash Management: In-Year Budget Control and Monitoring

PowerPoint: 9.INYEARBUDGETMANAGEMENT.ppt (106 slides, 7 MB)

  • Defining Budget Management
  • Objectives of Effective Budget Management, Monitoring and Control
  • In-Year versus Plan Management
  • Discontinuities between Budgets and the Ability to Plan
  • Establishing a Budget Management System
  • Preparing a Budget Plan
  • Arriving at an Adjusted Budget
  • Estimating Budget Performance for the Reporting Period
  • The Basis of Forecasting
  • Monitoring Financial Performance and Variance Analysis
  • Governance
  • Reallocation and Readjustment

In class cash management exercise.

Session 11: External Reporting and Accountability

Reading: Chapter 11: Financial Reporting and Performance Measurement

PowerPoint: 10.FINANCIALREPORTING.ppt (82 slides, 7 MB)

  • Objectives of financial and performance reporting: external and internal
  • Reporting to account and reporting to manage
  • Public sector reports – range and use
  • Creating good measures, creating clear measures
  • Integrating financial and non-financial performance data
  • Balanced Scorecard-type systems of reporting: wonders and warts

Session 12: Audit and Oversight in Managing Your Money

Reading: Chapter 11, as above and distributed material (to follow).

PowerPoint: 11.AUDIT.ppt (49 slides, 370+82 MB

  • What is audit, how it supports management and how it has to be independent to do that
  • Risk in determining what to inspect, oversee and audit
    • Components of audit risk
    • Materiality
  • Forms of oversight – internal and external
  • Types of audit: temporal, perspective and scope
  • Following the audit trail down the road of third party delivery of services and the growth or arms length agencies
  • The Audit Explosion

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 15 June 2016.