Insegnamento a.a. 2023-2024


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 14
GIO (9 credits - II sem. - OB  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 14 (II sem.)

Suggested background knowledge

To feel comfortable in this course, you should be familiar with some basics of financial accounting . No preliminary knowledge about public accounting is requested. Please contact course instructors if you need advice on materials about financial accounting.

Mission & Content Summary


In the public sector and international institutions, accounting, financial management and performance management systems are the fundamental tools for supporting decision making, programming and discharging accountability as to the use of public resources and the attainment of public goals. The course aims at providing students with competencies and tools useful to (i) understand the specific and critical issues of budgeting and reporting in the public sector; (ii) read, analyze, interpret the relevant documents; (iii) be aware of their recent evolutions; (iv) use the financial management and performance management systems techniques according to public sector specificities. To this end, it compares budgetary and accruals accounting and presents performance measurement tools together with the principal issues concerning financing instruments and sources. The course also provides students with the fundamentals of performance measurement systems, uncover how to select appropriate measures and how to implement performance measurement systems and use them in managing public and non governmental organisations. These competencies are relevant for both top government officials and external players (financial institutions, consultants, suppliers ).


  • Introduction to Accounting in the public sector.
  • Budgetary accounting: main principles and budgeting processes.
  • Accounting techniques: cash and commitment accounting.
  • Accruals accounting: main principles, technique and concepts.
  • Reading and analyzing accruals-based financial statements.
  • Pros and cons of different accounting systems in the public sector.
  • Introducing and implementing accruals accounting in the public sector: critical issues.
  • Pros and cons of different accounting systems in the public sector.
  • The goals of financial management in the public sector.
  • Funding and financing public investments.
  • Public Private Partnerships.
  • Cash Flow analysis.
  • Investment decisions.
  • The fundamentals of performance measurement in the public sector.

  • Main challenges and specificities for measuring performance in the public sector.

  • How to design appropriate indicators to measure performance at different levels of public sector activities.

  • How to incorporate and use performance information for managing public sector organizations.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Prepare, use and read a budget (in the form used by the main public organizations).
  • Discuss and interpret different political strategies in term of budget preparation.
  • Recognize, implement and analyze the existing public accounting basis.
  • Discuss, analyze and select different funding strategies in the public realm.
  • Perform and comment financial analysis.
  • Prepare and discuss financial plans based on innovative sources of funding.
  • Design and implement performance measurement systems.
  • Appreciate performance management issues in the public realm.
  • Solve performance management dilemma in the public realm.
  • Revise performance management systems at different levels.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Recognize the different use of budgeting information that can be done.
  • Be ready to discuss different accounting techniques and their meanings and implications for the public sector.
  • Comment budget and accounting document in a critical and technical way.
  • Evaluate different and funding options and support public administration in selecting specific solutions for new investments.
  • Implement performance management systems, considering public sector specificities and criticalities.
  • Judge public performance and discuss managerial implications of measurement and evaluation techniques.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Online lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Individual assignments
  • Group assignments


  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance). Guest lectures featuring high-profile individuals are organized throughout the course. Informative, and stimulating, these talks aim to open student’s eyes on the relevance of the topic discussed in class, support their professional development and help them build network of contacts.
  • Exercises -  throughout the course students engage in a exercises on public accounting, financial and performance management. The final aim is to foster active learning through immediate application of concepts discussed in class.
  • Case studies/Incidents (traditional, online). Case studies and incidents are regularly used to highlight the relevance of the contents discussed as we all as strengthen students’ ability to apply acquired knowledge to solve real life challenge.
  • Individual assignments - in the form of continuous learning tests aimed at assessing students’ understanding of the concepts covered in class and their ability to use them critically. 
  • Group assignment - students are required to work in groups to develop performance measurement framework of public organisation/program 

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
x   x
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)


  1. Continous learning tests

    Continuous learning tests are based on the three pillars of the course: public accounting, financial and performance management. Continuous learning tests are aimed at assessing students’ understanding of the concepts covered in class and their ability to use them critically. 

  2. Group assignment - students are required to work in groups to develop a performance measuerement framework to evaluate performance of a specific public organisations/program and present their ideas in class 

  3. Final exam, consisting of exercises and open questions aimed to assess students’ ability to apply the theoretical and analytical tools illustrated during the course. 


Students’ assessment is based on one final written exam. It is made up of closed and open-ended questions referring to the concepts, models and cases contained in the ttwo textbooks. 

Teaching materials


Readings and other materials (i.e. lecture slides) are listed in the syllabus and made available in the online learning space and in the Course Reserves.


Two textbooks:

  • R. JONES, M. PENDLEBUTY, Public Sector Accounting, Cardiff University, 2010, Financial Times Press, Pearson, 2010, 6th edition, ISBN-10: 0273720368 -ISBN-13: 9780273720362.
  • W. VAN DOOREN, G. BOUCKAERT, J. HALLIGAN, Performance Management in the Public Sector, 2015 Routledge, 2nd edition, ISBN 978 0 415 73810.


Last change 10/12/2023 21:36