The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board has published a new standard that covers the accounting for and disclosure of intangible assets: IPSAS 31, “Intangible Assets.”

The new standard fills a gap in the IPSASB literature and adds some guidance on public sector-specific issues, including intangible heritage assets.

“Until this new IPSAS, there has been no direct guidance to address intangible assets that exist in the public sector,” said IPSASB Chairman Andreas Bergmann in a statement. “The new standard will enhance consistency in accounting for intangible assets, while also laying the groundwork for dealing with some of the more complex public sector-specific issues going forward.”

IPSAS 31 is primarily drawn from the International Accounting Standards Board’s IAS 38, “Intangible Assets.” It also contains extracts from the IASB’s Standing Interpretations Committee Interpretation 32 (SIC 32), “Intangible Assets—Web Site Costs,” adding application guidance and illustrations that have not yet been incorporated into the IAS.

At this point, IPSAS 31 does not deal with uniquely public sector issues, such as powers and rights conferred by legislation, a constitution, or by equivalent means. The IPSASB, which operates under the auspices of the International Federation of Accountants, will reconsider the applicability of the standard to these powers and rights in the context of its conceptual framework project, which is currently in progress.

The IPSASB has also published "Improvements to IPSASs" to conform with minor changes to International Financial Reporting Standards that were made since the related IPSASs were originally released. These are part of a series of annual improvements that is modeled on a successful IASB annual update program.

“While we have achieved substantial convergence with IFRSs (dated December 2008), it is necessary for the IPSASB to continually reassess the IPSASs to ensure that they remain relevant to users of public sector financial statements,” said Bergmann.

IPSAS 31 and “Improvements to IPSASs” are available to download free of charge from the IPSASB section of IFAC's Publications and Resources site ( The IPSASB encourages IFAC members, associates, regional accountancy bodies, and firms to use these materials and to promote their availability to members and employees.

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