According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth in accountant and auditor employment is expected to grow by 16 percent between 2010 and 2020. This growth is seen as about average for all other occupations in the country. Although it may seem like a decent occupation to invest the education and time in, many students may be concerned if they cannot access certain work sectors with an accounting degree. One particular sector that has made some students question the merit of an accounting degree is the government and public sector. Many people might assume accounting is more toward private businesses and commercial enterprises. However, the government needs accountants to perform very crucial duties.

Why Does the Government Need Accountants?

The BLS published findings that showed that, as of May 2010, 7 percent of all accountants worked for local and state governments (excluding hospitals and the federal government). This may not seem like much, but the government needs accountants to handle the basic operations of budget, finance, and auditing government services. For example, the major federal organization that hires many accountants is the Government Accountability Office (GAO). A federal organization that reports directly to the Congress, the GAO analyzes how the federal government spends money that is allocated by Congress. To do this, the GAO hires hundreds of workers who must audit government agencies, investigate how funds are spent at government agencies, and see how well funding is working at various federal agencies. Another government agency that needs accountants is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. This office, which is part of the Executive Branch’s Treasury Department, supervises banks across the country and foreign associations with US assets in them. To review banks, the Office must deploy their accountants to analyze bank transactions.

Government Versus Public Accountants

The BLS states that government accountants are accountants that are needed to review the budgets of local, state, or the federal government. At the same time, a government accountant will work to audit organizations in the private sphere to make sure those organizations comply with taxation laws. A public accountant, however, is a professional who can work for or with the government on a number of activities. A public accountant will work for an organization that is complied, by law, to provide financial information to the government. Therefore, public accountants may work for a company that needs to file information to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or they can represent government agencies who might need to provide information to the GAO. Public accountants are typically individuals who work for accounting firms or have their own accounting practices. Many are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), which are accountants that hold a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting, pass a national CPA examination, and meet any other requirement for public accountants their state requires.

Many Opportunities With or For The Government

Contrary to what many people might think, the government has a large need for qualified accountants. Accountants help to make sure government agencies are spending public money correctly. Other accountants help the government monitor the private market to make sure legal actions are taking place. Finally, other accountants help government organizations and private enterprises present financial filings to specific government agencies. Although there are opportunities in the private sphere for accountants, many accountants can work in the government sector.