Off balance sheet assets in central governments are they unique or are they really assets?

Some government standard setting bodies are adopting or have adopted full accrual accounting. As part of this process, standard setters must define the elements to be used in the accounting system. As a result public sector accounting bodies have adopted varied definitions of assets. All these definitions, in contrast to corporate accounting definitions, make allowance for some physical, intangible, or infrastructure assets to be accounted for off the balance sheet. In this article, we explore the varied definitions promulgated by the standards from the International Federation of Accountants, the United States, and Finland. Secondly, we discuss the assets that are excluded from balance sheet recognition and the basis for the conclusions to mandate off balance sheet status. Finally, we discuss if the existing treatment of off balance sheet assets is consistent with the use of the assets and produces a relevant, complete balance sheet