This paper focuses on the continuing worldwide phenomenon of homogenisation of audit rules, regulation and procedures between the government and private sectors. The observations are informed by Pusey’s (1991) criticisms of ‘economic rationalism’ as the driving mechanism behind public sector reforms in Australia. The presumed superiority of commercial audit is questioned in association with the work of Hopwood (1983, 1998), Otley and Pierce (1996) and, Power (1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997) that contextualise the role of audit. In the private sector audit there continues to be an ‘expectations gap’ arising from commercial pressures and a rhetorical support for the public interest. It is contended that audit quality in the public sector is driven by a different perception of public interest that has been eroded with the advent of economic rationalism. The consequent emergence of a public sector audit ‘expectations gap’ is an amalgam of new components particular to the government audit environment and, aspects of the private ‘expectations gap’ which have been transplanted into the public domain.
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