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Responsibility Accounting: meaning, definition, advantages

Because investment centres are granted the power to decide their investments, they function as a separate organization. Different profitability criteria, such as return on investment, economic value-added, residual income and others, evaluate investment centres. The controllability criterion is crucial to the content of performance reports for each manager. For example, at the department supervisor level, perhaps only direct materials and direct labor cost control are appropriate for measuring performance. A plant manager, however, has the authority to make decisions regarding many other costs not controllable at the supervisory level, such as the salaries of department supervisors.

  • As you’ve learned, many companies invest in research and development activities to determine how to improve existing products and to create entirely new products or processes.
  • Therefore, the company will establish a threshold—the cost of capital percentage—that will be used to screen potential investments.
  • The four responsibility centres generally created are Cost, Revenue, Profit and Investment.
  • Finally, the cost of capital, which is covered in Short-Term Decision-Making, refers to the rate at which the company raises (or earns) capital.

The cost center’s prime work is to check the cost of an organisation and to limit the unwanted expenditure that the company may acquire. Costs, in this respect, are basically classified as controllable costs and non-controllable costs. Controllable costs are the costs that can be controlled by the organization. Uncontrollable costs are the cost that the organization can not control. The concerned center is made responsible and accountable for only controllable expenses. So, it is important to distinguish between controllable costs and non-controllable costs.

What is Responsibility Acounting?

The benefit of a residual income approach is that all investments in all segments of the organization are evaluated using the same approach. Instead of having each segment select only investments that benefit only the segment, the residual income approach guides managers to select investments that benefit the entire organization. While the president may delegate much
decision-making power, some revenue and expense items remain
exclusively under the president’s control. For example, in some
companies, large capital (plant and equipment) expenditures may be
approved only by the president. Therefore, depreciation, property
taxes, and other related expenses should not be designated as a
store manager’s responsibility since these costs are not primarily
under that manager’s control.

The performance of these centers is evaluated based on the responsibilities assigned to them. To implement responsibility accounting in a company, the business entity must be organized so that responsibility is assignable to individual managers. The various company managers and their lines of authority (and the resulting levels of responsibility) should be fully defined. The organization chart below demonstrates lines of authority and responsibility that could be used as a basis for responsibility reporting.

Steps in Responsibility Accounting Process

However, by the year-end, they made $108,000 in revenue, marking a deficit of $2,000 in their expected revenue. The manager of the gadgets division is required to explain the gap between the expected and actual revenue. Figure 9.4 shows an example of what the cost center report might look like for the Apparel World custodial department. https://quick-bookkeeping.net/ Business investments include the purchase of assets your business keeps for more than one year, such as machinery, cars, buildings, and land. These purchases can significantly affect your business, and those responsible for big purchasing decisions should be evaluated on the asset’s impact on the business’s bottom line.


Responsibility accounting is a form of management accounting that is answerable for all the management, budgeting, and internal accounting of a firm. Accounting generally entails the development of a monthly and annual budget for an individual responsibility center. It also accounts for the cost and income of a firm, where reports are compiled monthly or yearly and given to https://bookkeeping-reviews.com/ the relevant management for feedback. Responsibility accounting often entails the creation of monthly and annual budgets for each responsibility centre. It also keeps track of a company’s costs and revenues, with reports compiled monthly or annually and sent to the appropriate manager for review. The focus of responsibility accounting is mostly on Responsibility Centers.

Type 2: Revenue center

Because it was important to promptly clean the snow as well as the salt that was brought into the store on customers’ shoes, additional equipment was purchased so that each entrance would have a mop and bucket. The custodial department manager decided this was the best course of action. Normally, the store uses a single https://kelleysbookkeeping.com/ mop and bucket to clean all entrances. Responsibility accounting delegates decision making to several parts of the organization. Line managers, department heads, and supervisors are entrusted with operational decisions. The top management (executives) could then focus on strategic or long-term organizational objectives.

It provides new insights

The evaluation is carried out based on the responsibility assigned to the manager. The responsibility accounting system is a technique for accumulating and reporting costs and income to senior management to make successful decisions. The sales and marketing department, for example, has authority over income creation but not over costs and investment. It also keeps track of a firm’s costs and revenues, with financial reports compiled monthly or yearly and sent to the appropriate manager for review. For instance, if Mr X, the manager of a unit, plans the budget of his department, he is responsible for keeping the budget under control. Mr X will have all the required information about the cost of his department.

Content: Responsibility Accounting

Assuming the cost of capital (understood as the rate of a bank loan) to Apparel World is 10%. This is the rate that Apparel World will also set as the rate it expects all responsibility centers to earn. Therefore, in the example, the expected amount of residual value—the profit goal, in a sense—for the children’s clothing department is $1,500 ($15,000 investment base × 10% cost of capital).

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