A new era for public sector reporting: Technology and digitization in service to meet user needs


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Information technology effects are nowadays evident in, literally, all aspects of social and economic life. Digital technologies, and especially emerging technologies such as social media, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), can affect data production and dissemination. The relation between digital technologies and accounting has already attracted considerable interest in the private sector, while in the public sector, there is a dearth of relevant studies (Agostino et al., 2020; Agostino et al., 2021). The use of technology in public sector reporting has covered so far a few possible research topics. Early studies focused on the web as a means through which citizens would get regular accurate information on public finances (Caba Pérez et al., 2005) and its consideration as a tool that the public could use to continuously assess government agencies through everyday interaction (Rodríguez Bolívar et al. 2007). More recently, there are studies that have assessed citizens' preferences regarding the way the information is presented. More specifically, there are research works dealing with popular report presentation (Cohen et al., 2017), whether smart cities adopt IT-enhanced means in relation to financial or non-financial reporting (Cohen and Karatzimas, 2022) or whether the use of infographics increases financial statements understandability (Cohen et al., 2022). 

In the last years, the implementation of emerging technologies on the public sector is openning new avenues for changing both the roles of stakeholders and the way these stakeholders reach the financial and non-financial reporting. Indeed, the use of technology as a facilitator for both financial and non-financial reporting to meet user needs shows significant prospects. Currently, big data attract public administration interest related to users’ needs (Ju et al., 2018; Ingrams, 2019), while the use of social media by administrations to bring reporting to citizens’ mobile phones and tablets is escalating (Giacomini et al., 2021). AI and the IoT are further placed on the service of various users (de Sousa et al., 2019; El-Haddadeh et al., 2019). 

This special issue focuses on how emerging technologies and digitalization could impact on the stakeholders role in the production and shaping of financial, non-financial, sustainability and SDG (Sustainabiblity Development Goals) reporting in the public sector as well as on the development of good practices in this area. The new era challenges the content and the suitability of the traditional lengthy pdf. reports that are available on the websites which, up to now, are a direct transfer of the paper-world to the digital one. The capacity of stakeholders, including citizens and the civic society, to participate in the co-production of information and the alternative ways of visualization (on demand) make information more comprehensive. The dissemination of financial and sustainability information in social media and the use of technology for counter-accounting purposes pose new challenges in reporting. Governments at all levels get more transparent by setting up and maintaining open data repositories and by developing and maintaining portals where budgeting and SDGs information becomes more comprehensive with the use of technology. Technology advancements make people get accustomed to interactive tools and personal digital assistants to answer their queries on several matters on the spot and users of financial information usually browse through data at their own pace and not in a predefined order through tablets and mobile phones. This way, report narrations based on artificial intelligence or the use of chatbots may be features of future reporting. However, these dimensions are likely to affect not just the format of reporting per se to meet the user needs but also the content of the reporting irrespectively of the type of the reports, e.g. financial reports, environmental reports, popular reports, integrated reports, sustainability reports, government budgets, etc.


Agostino, D., Arnaboldi, M. & Diaz Lema, M. (2020), New development: COVID-19 as an accelerator of digital transformation in public service delivery, Public Money & Management, DOI: 10.1080/09540962.2020.1764206
Agostino, D., Saliterer, I., & Steccolini, I. (2021). Digitalization, accounting and accountability: A literature review and reflections on future research in public services. Financial Accountability & Management. DOI: 10.1111/faam.12301
Caba Pérez, C., López Hernández A. M. and Rodríguez Bolívar M.P. (2005), Citizens’ access to on-line governmental financial information: Practices in the European Union countries, Government Information Querterly, Vol. 22 (2), 258-276. 
Cohen, S. and Karatzimas S. (2022), Do Smart Cities report "smart"? Evidence from awarded Smart Cities, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 602-621. DOI: 10.1108/JPBAFM-12-2020-0198
Cohen, S. X. Mamakou and S. Karatzimas, (2017), "IT- enhanced popular reports: Analysing citizens preferences", Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 34, Iss 2, pp. 283-295. 
Cohen, S., F. Manes Rossi, X. Mamakou and I. Brusca, (2022), "Financial Accounting Information presented with infographics: Does it improve financial reporting undestandability?" Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 34 No. 6,  pp. 263-295, DOI 10.1108/JPBAFM-11-2021-0163
de Sousa, W. G., de Melo, E. R. P., Bermejo, P. H. D. S., Farias, R. A. S., & Gomes, A. O. (2019). How and where is artificial intelligence in the public sector going? A literature review and research agenda.  Government Information Quarterly, 36(4), 101392.
El-Haddadeh, R., Weerakkody, V., Osmani, M., Thakker, D., & Kapoor, K. K. (2019). Examining citizens' perceived value of internet of things technologies in facilitating public sector services engagement. Government Information Quarterly, 36(2), 310-320.
Giacomini, D., Rocca, L., Zola, P., & Mazzoleni, M. (2021). Local Governments’ environmental disclosure via social networks: Organizational legitimacy and stakeholders’ interactions. Journal of Cleaner Production, 317, 128290.
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List of topic areas

  • Specific themes include (but are not limited to) the following:
  • Financial reporting (including popular reporting and integrated reporting) by adopting technology and digitization for multiple stakeholders
  • Non-Financial reporting (e.g. sustainability and environmental reporting) by adopting technology and digitization for multiple stakeholders
  • Innovative ways of reporting for financial and sustainability reporting purposes 
  • Challenges in terms of IT knowledge and skills for accountants and auditors.
  • Public Sector reporting and big data
  • Effects of public sector reporting digitalization on transparency, accountability and decision-making 
  • New forms of public sector reporting digitalization based on co-production and co-development
  • Digitization and the new role of stakeholders in the co-production and verification of public sector reporting.
  • The impact of the implementation of emerging technologies (Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Blockchain, Big Data,…) on both public sector reporting and auditing.
  • Digital divide and the implementation of the digitization on public sector reporting.
  • Citizens' rights to information access in different electronic formats and channels.
  • Analysis of governmental portals containing financial and non-financial information for management decision-making and control 
  • Innovations in integrating social media and big data in reporting 
  • Digitization in reporting in Central Government, Local Governments and Universities 
  • Digitization in reporting for accountability, transparency and trust 
  • Open Data Systems in Central Government, Local Governments and Other Public Sector Entities and policy implications  


Guest Editors 

Sandra Cohen, Athens University of Economics and Business, Dept. of Business Administration, Greece, [email protected]

Sotirios Karatzimas, Athens University of Economics and Business, Dept. of Accounting and Finance, Greece, [email protected]

Manuel Pedro Rodríguez Bolívar, University of Granada, Dept. of Accounting and Finance, Spain, [email protected]   

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Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions (if agreed with publisher): 11/02/2024
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 30/06/2024        
Email for submissions: [email protected]