An examination of the statement of service performance by New Zealand local authorities: The case of wastewater services

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Keerasuntonpong, P., Dunstan, K., & Khanna, B. (2010). An examination of the statement of service performance by New Zealand local authorities: The case of wastewater services. Paper presented at the 22nd Asian-Pacific Conference on International Accounting Issues. 7-10 November, 2010. Gold Coast, Australia.

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Our paper applies accountability expectations discerned from literature to develop a disclosure index that measures the consistency between those expectations and the types of disclosures made about wastewater services in the SSPs presented in the 2007/2008 annual reports of 73 local authorities in New Zealand. Size and constituency sophistication are investigated as potential determinants of the type and amount of disclosure. Multiple regression models are used to investigate this relationship. The results indicate that the local authorities disclosed information consistent with the discharge of accountability for probity, legality - nearly all authorities (91% of all local authorities) disclosed these items. Process/efficiency and performance/programme /effectiveness related items were the least often disclosed - about half of the local authorities (50% and 46% of local authorities, respectively) disclosed these items. The SSP reporting about wastewater services by local authorities is generally consistent with our index with the mean index score of the local authorities being 64.55%. However, the index scores are widely dispersed with a maximum score of 93% and lowest score of 13%. The regression analysis indicates that only size is significantly related to the index score for the disclosures of the local authorities. This research covered only one year (2007/2008), focused on a sole service, and used the population of local authorities in New Zealand. This limits our ability to generalize our findings to other years, other services' disclosures, and the local authorities of other countries. The results in this paper support the conclusion that local authorities in New Zealand [mostly] disclose information about wastewater which is consistent with use for evaluating their performance in accordance with their accountability obligations.

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