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Drivers of change for the public sector: Bringing governments closer to citizens and businesses in a digital age through ethics and trust


28 Sep 2017


Public Affairs

-       EU experts, finance professionals and public sector auditors discuss digital transformation, and re-building trust through ethics, integrity and accountability of public sector at the European Court of Auditors -

The scale and pace of changes in society and  the economy are accelerating as never before, and the public sector is far from  being immune from  that trend. Having the foresight to anticipate how the changes will affect a country will help its government to prepare most effectively for the future landscape.

To help leaders in the public sector and professional accountants prepare for an uncertain tomorrow, ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) undertook a global study to explore which emerging drivers of change could have the biggest impact and to highlight the skills that will be required over the period to 2026.

This research paper was discussed at a conference hosted by Lazaros  S. Lazarou, Dean of Chamber  V" Financing and Administering the Union",   at the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg. Organised under the auspices of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the event focused on bringing governments closer to citizens and businesses in a digital age through ethics and trust.

After a welcoming message from Klaus-Heiner Lehne, President of the European Court of Auditors, Lazaros  S. Lazarou opened the debate: “Like ACCA, the European Court of Auditors and its members believe it’s important that finance professionals in the public sector gather together to discuss issues and to understand where the profession is heading. 

We need to understand the big picture and see where we fit in. We also need to ask questions, and learn from each other. Finance professionals in the public sector have a unique opportunity to serve the communities in which they live and make a tangible difference to people’s lives through better infrastructure, and public services.  Arguably, there are not many other areas that provide the diversity of challenge and fulfilment found in the public sector”.

Maggie McGhee, Director of Professional Insights at ACCA who moderated the second panel on challenges and  opportunities of Digital Digital transformation said: “Advances in science and technology lie at the heart of many of the developments that will shape the public sector landscape over the next decade. They offer the potential for disruptive innovation in every aspect of human life, society and work. The opportunities are endless. But there are also risks associated with governments holding so much data. Those who run public services will inevitably have to factor in these risks and proceed with due caution when considering adoption of new technologies”.

Sandra Särav, the Counsellor for Digital Affairs in the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications shared with an impressed audience the innovative good practices in place in her country:  “Estonians are at the very edge of digitalisation of both public and private services. Today, 99% of the public sector services are available to Estonians, accessible through secure digital identities mandatory for every citizen above the age of 15, and to every resident. Public and private sector enterprises and institutions can connect their information system with X-Road, a distributed data exchange platform that will soon allow cross-border data exchange with Finland. The system is accessible with the eID that is based on advanced encryption technology and uses a two-factor authentication. Data is decentralised but not duplicated, and shared securely via this system. Estonians lead a digital lifestyle - people trust and use e-solutions, since they are fast, safe and convenient”.

Brian Mc Enery, ACCA’s President concluded: “Discussions clearly showed that finance professionals working in the public sector will be playing an even more pivotal role over the coming years in managing challenges, driving change and seizing opportunities. Global changes will have a local impact and governments - and their finance professionals - will need to be at the forefront of tackling their effects. Economic growth, the quality and availability of the global talent pool and business leaders’ responsiveness to change are the top three drivers affecting the public sector globally. Collectively these drivers of change are making the public sector environment more fluid and forcing it to evolve.

And that is why it is an exciting time to be a professional accountant in the public sector. There is a huge opportunity to help shape the public services of the future, achieving value for money and long-term sustainability”.




Notes to editors

 About ACCA

Contact: Cecile Bonino, Head of EU Affairs,  tel: +32 (0) 2 286 11 37 or

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

ACCA supports its 188,000 members and 480,000 students in 181 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 95 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers. More information is here: