Public Sector
Last Updated:
September 19, 2023

Job Description Overview

As a Controller in the Public Sector industry, your main job is to manage and oversee financial systems and processes within a government organization or agency. Your responsibilities include developing budgets, monitoring financial performance, and providing sound financial advice to senior management.

You'll be responsible for creating financial reports that highlight important information and presenting it to stakeholders. You'll also ensure compliance with government regulations and policies, and manage audits and financial risk.

You lead a team of financial professionals who are responsible for managing accounts payable and receivable, payroll, and other financial transactions. You may also oversee procurement processes and manage contracts.

To be successful in this Controller job description, you should have a strong background in finance and accounting, a deep understanding of government regulations, and excellent communication skills. You should also be able to work well under pressure and manage multiple projects and responsibilities simultaneously.

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Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Controllers in the public sector are responsible for managing government financial records and budget plans.
  • They oversee the collection and analysis of financial data to ensure spending is in compliance with policies and regulations.
  • Controllers work closely with auditors to ensure accurate reporting, and they review financial reports to ensure their accuracy.
  • They make recommendations to government officials to improve financial efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Controllers must be able to communicate complex financial information to non-financial personnel in a clear and understandable way.
  • They develop financial policies and procedures that comply with legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Controllers play a critical role in developing long-term financial plans for the government entity they serve.
  • They may also be responsible for managing the payroll, accounts payable and receivable, and other financial functions of the government entity.
  • Controllers must stay up to date with changes in financial regulations and policies that may affect their government entity.

Experience and Education Requirements

To become a controller in the public sector, you need both education and experience. Education is usually a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or a related field. A master's degree can also be helpful, especially if you want to advance in your career. You'll need to have a strong understanding of financial reporting, budgeting, and taxation laws. Experience is also important, usually in the form of working as a staff accountant or financial analyst for several years. You should have experience managing budgets, analyzing financial data, and preparing financial reports. Certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is also beneficial. Overall, becoming a controller in the public sector takes a mix of education, experience, and a passion for working with numbers.

Salary Range

The Controller role in the Public Sector industry is a crucial position responsible for managing the financial health and integrity of the organization. The expected salary range for a Controller in the United States is between $82,000 to $167,000 per year, depending on the size of the organization and the level of experience required. Larger cities like New York or San Francisco may offer higher salaries due to the cost of living. 

In Canada, the average salary for a Controller is around CAD $97,000 per year. In the United Kingdom, the average salary is around £50,000 per year. However, these figures may vary depending on the industry and the size of the organization.

To calculate more extensive salary information, we recommend using resources like Glassdoor, Payscale, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to get the most up-to-date information.



Career Outlook

Controllers in the public sector are responsible for managing the financial health of government agencies, ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, and overseeing budgetary allocations. The career outlook for this field looks stable, with a modest growth rate of 3% over the next five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The public sector is expected to continue to face budgetary pressures, making the job of the controller even more important. With the increasing demand for accountability and transparency in public finance, the role of the controller is becoming more critical. As such, there will be a sustained demand for professionals in this field. If you are interested in a career as a public sector controller, you can look forward to a stable and rewarding career path.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What does a Controller do in the Public Sector?

A: A Controller is responsible for managing financial operations, including budgeting, accounting, and reporting, of a government agency or entity.

Q: What qualifications do you need to become a Controller in the Public Sector?

A: Typically, a Controller position requires a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance, along with several years of experience in accounting or financial management.

Q: What are some of the important tasks a Controller in the Public Sector must do?

A: A Controller must ensure compliance with accounting standards and government regulations, manage the organization's budget, oversee financial reporting, and provide financial analysis and advice to senior leadership.

Q: Is a Controller in the Public Sector responsible for managing payroll?

A: Yes, a Controller is responsible for managing payroll for employees of the public sector agency or entity they work for.

Q: What skills are important for a Controller in the Public Sector to have?

A: A Controller should have strong analytical, organizational, and communication skills, and be proficient in financial management software and tools. They should also be detail-oriented and able to work under pressure.

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