Left column, right column and beyond

Whether you’re doing your home finances or running the Finance and Budget Division of an international organization such as ITER, you basically act on the same principles: what comes in goes into the column on the left; what goes out goes into the column on the right, and the total must be balanced.

Now of course, there are differences. Finances at ITER are a rather complex affair; the Organization is accountable to authorities such as the ITER Council. Its finances are audited twice a year by the Financial Audit Board and are published through its annual Financial Statements.

Like most, if not all, public organizations or private companies, the ITER Organization manages its finances within strict rules. One set of rules is internal and is called the "Project Resource Management Regulations (PRMR)"; the other is a set of international standards, specific to public entities — the "International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)".

Upon its inception, the ITER Organization voluntarily adhered to the 32 standards of IPSAS. However, some very specific aspects of the project’s organization, such as the nature of its contributions and assets or their valuations over time, were not fully anticipated by the experts who drafted the IPSAS.

In order to become more familiar with the IPSAS updates and their application to the ITER Organization’s specific accounting issues, the Accounting, Treasury and Systems Section of the ITER Finance and Budget Division organized a training session early this week (10-11 September). Professor Frans Van Schaik, a partner at the auditing firm Deloitte Netherlands, and a former Member of the IPSAS Board (2006-2011), and Juliette Nahon, a Public Sector manager at Deloitte France, came to Cadarache to further develop the internal IPSAS knowledge, and to share with the ITER Accounting staff their worldwide experience.

„The aim,” explains Senior Accountant Lionel Rigaux, „was to review the principles, applicability and disclosures required by the IPSAS and to optimize the way we implement them in order to strengthen our ability to produce high-quality Financial Statements leading to the Auditor’s certification”.