A paper from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board has outlined key differences between the needs of users of state and local government financial information and users interested in for-profit businesses.

According to the paper, the primary purpose of governments is to enhance or maintain the well-being of citizens by providing services in accordance with public policy goals. In contrast, for-profit business enterprises focus primarily on wealth creation, interacting principally with those segments of society that fulfill their mission of generating a financial return on investment for shareholders.

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