FACT SHEET : Introduction of a National Standard Chart of Accounts (SCOA) from 1 July 2011
The National SCOA
The National Standard Chart of Accounts (SCOA) is an agreed list of account categories for use by all Australian governments in their dealings with not‐for‐profit (NFP) organisations. It includes a data dictionary which lists the names and descriptions of accounts most likely to be required from NFP organisations in their dealings with government departments. The data dictionary provides standardised terminology for account codes and explains each one in simple, practical language.
For new grants entered into from 1 July 2011, all governments (including FaHCSIA) will accept financial information from NFP organisations as defined in the National SCOA.
As the use of SCOA is not mandatory for NFP organisations, FaHCSIA will continue to accept financial information in other formats provided it is consistent with the applicable Australian Accounting Standards.
Benefits of the National SCOA
The National SCOA will reduce compliance costs for NFP organisations and government departments. Because all government departments will accept the same account categories, NFP organisations will be able to use consistent accounting terms for all government grant funding. Auditing of NFP organisations’ financial accounts will be simpler. Comparisons of financial information will be made easier when all governments recognise the same financial information in their grant funding of NFP organisations.
Optional for NFP organisations
It is not mandatory for NFP organisations to use the National SCOA for their internal financial management. However, it is recommended that NFPs use the National SCOA, or consider using the relevant definitions, as this will reduce the administrative costs of reporting to government about grant funding. Although the SCOA was designed primarily to meet the needs of small to medium NFP organisations, some large NFP organisations have found the best approach is to adopt similar definitions into their existing chart of accounts.
NFP organisations usually apply a SCOA at the beginning of the financial year. It can be used on a cash accounting or accrual accounting basis. Assistance with conversion to the National SCOA is available on the QUT website. The National SCOA is generic and can be used in any accounting software package. Items in the SCOA are numbered for convenience, which is required by most accounting packages, and can be adapted to suit. Most NFP organisations will not use all accounts in the National SCOA.