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UNDP’s IPSAS Adoption. United Nations Development Programme . What are IPSAS?. International Public Sector Accounting Standards are independently-developed financial reporting standards widely considered best practice for public sector organizations

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UNDP’s IPSAS Adoption

United Nations Development Programme


What are IPSAS?

  • International Public Sector Accounting Standards are independently-developed financial reporting standards widely considered best practice for public sector organizations
  • They are or will be used by over 50 governments, NATO, UN, OECD etc.
  • They impose clarity and transparency
  • They are based on full accrual accounting
  • Their adoption was mandated by the UN General Assembly in 2006, to replace the current United Nations System Accounting Standards (UNSAS)

What is accrual accounting?

  • “Only recognizing a financial event when the underlying economic event has actually occurred.”  This means:
  • Recording revenue not when cash arrives – as now – but when a legally valid agreement is signed
  • Recording expenses for goods or services not when we issue a purchase order – as now – but when we actually receive the goods or services
  • Reporting all assets, depreciating them over their useful life
  • Reporting all liabilities, including staff benefits

What change will IPSAS bring to UNDP?

  • We must change our financial reports and statements , as well as a number of financial policies and procedures
  • That in turn means changing the work of many staff members and modifying our information system, Atlas.   
  • Managers in all departments will have to change the way they plan and record their spending

What are the benefits of adopting IPSAS?

  • Better accountability and transparency in financial and donor reporting; hence greater credibility
  • Support for results-based management
  • Better prediction of future asset and cash-flow needs
  • Improved skills among finance staff
  • Greater comparability with financial statements of governments and other UN agencies
  • Simplified purchase order management

How and when will UNDP adopt IPSAS?

  • UNDP will be fully IPSAS-compliant by January 1, 2012
  • The transition to IPSAS is being managed by UNDP’s IPSAS Programme, overseen by a full-time manager, using the Prince2 project methodology
  • The cost of the Programme is estimated at $19.8 million

How is UNDP managing organizational change for IPSAS?

  • IPSAS learning, targeted at practitioners, trainers, mid-level and senior managers, through e-learning and workshops.
  • Communication to staff, managers and donors , directly and via regional focal points, for general awareness and staff and manager buy-in. Communication channels include web, newsletters, workshops and podcasts.

What will IPSAS mean for donor reports?


IPSAS “revenue” represents the total value of contributions in the signed contribution agreement. UNSAS “income” represented only the cash received.

The IPSAS opening balance represents revenue minus expenses; the UNSAS opening balance represented income minus expenditure



What will IPSAS mean for donor reports?

The new report includes legally binding vendor contracts for goods or services that have yet to be delivered or received. The old report showed disbursements and committed expenditure, as a single figure.

The new report includes goods delivered, services rendered, total employee benefits and depreciation of assets. The old report merely showed disbursements and committed expenditure as a single figure.


How can we monitor UNDP’s IPSAS progress?

  • Consult the IPSAS page at
  • Write to Darshak Shah, UNDP's IPSAS Programme Board Executive

Thank you.

© United Nations Development Programme 2010