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Cost system design and cost management in the Spanish public sector
Boned, Josep Lluís; Bagur, Llorenç; Tayles, Mike
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
Cost systems have been shown to have developed considerably in recent years andactivity-based costing (ABC) has been shown to be a contribution to cost management,particularly in service businesses. The public sector is composed to a very great extentof service functions, yet considerably less has been reported of the use of ABC tosupport cost management in this sector.In Spain, cost systems are essential for city councils as they are obliged to calculate thecost of the services subject to taxation (eg. waste collection, etc). City councils musthave a cost system in place to calculate the cost of services, as they are legally requirednot to profit , from these services.This paper examines the development of systems to support cost management in theSpanish Public Sector. Through semi-structured interviews with 28 subjects within oneCity Council it contains a case study of cost management. The paper contains extractsfrom interviews and a number of factors are identified which contribute to thesuccessful development of the cost management system.Following the case study a number of other City Councils were identified where activity-based techniques had either failed or stalled. Based on the factors identified inthe single case study a further enquiry is reported. The paper includes a summary usingstatistical analysis which draws attention to change management, funding and politicalincentives as factors which had an influence on system success or failure.
Finance and Accounting
cost system
management accounting
activity based costing
public sector
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Working Paper

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