The Classification of Functions of Government (COFOG) classifies government expenditure data from the system of National Accounts by the purpose for which the funds are used. It is a detailed classification of the functions or socio-economic objectives, that general government units aim to achieve through various kinds of outlays. First-level COFOG splits expenditure data into ten functional groups or sub-sectors of expenditure and second-level COFOG further splits each first-level group into up to nine sub-groups. COFOG is used to distinguish between the individual and collective services provided by general government and identifies consumption expenditure that benefits individual households. It also permits trends in government outlays on particular functions or purposes to be examined over time.
The ten functional groups are: (1) General Public Services, (2) Defence, (3) Public Order and Safety, (4) Economic Affairs, (5) Environmental Protection, (6) Housing and Community Amenities, (7) Health, (8) Recreation, culture and religion, (9) Education, and (10) Social Protection.
The COFOG exercise is based on guidelines set out in the IMF Government Finance Statistics Manual.
The legal basis for compilation and transmission of General Government expenditure function is Council Regulation (EC) No. 549/2013 (Annex B – Table 11 of the ESA 2010 transmission programme).
COFOG statistics are compiled using administrative data collected on an annual basis. The administrative reports used are the Departmental Accounting System (DAS), Financial Data Reporting System (FDRS), and the Treasury’s Accruals templates. Other data used to compile COFOG are provided directly from the ministry, department or entity concerned or else, when possible, from internal units within the NSO. Final audited accounts for the Extra Budgetary Units and the Local Councils are also supplied.
Data from the DAS and FDRS is available on a monthly basis, while the Treasury’s accruals templates are available on a quarterly basis.
Accuracy and reliability of data
Quality of data is assured by adherence to the ESA 2010 and the manual on sources and methods for the compilation of COFOG statistics.
All accounts in the corporate chart of accounts (COA) of DAS are coded in accordance with the requirements of the ESA 2010 and checks with previous years and the current economic scenario are undertaken.
Further checks are conducted by the Public Finance Unit on the Treasury’s accruals templates. Each quarter, any queries are sent to the Accounting, Methodology and Compliance Unit (AMCU) in respect of changes in debtors and creditors greater than €1.0 million.
For any queries or clarifications on the FDRS templates, contact is either made directly with the particular Extra Budgetary Unit (EBU) or with the Financial Management and Monitoring Unit (FMMU) at the Budget Office.
Timeliness and punctuality of data
At a national level, a news release is disseminated on an annual basis in January of year t+2, and covers reference period from year t-5 to year t.
COFOG data is transmitted to Eurostat at t+12 months.
Accessibility and clarity of data
News releases are published as scheduled in the Advance Release Calendar and are available on the NSO’s website.
Coherence and comparability/consistency of data
Data are comparable across all European Union member states, as harmonised European rules (ESA 2010 and Manual on sources and methods for the compilation of COFOG statistics) are used by all countries for compiling COFOG data.
Data is comparable from 1995 onwards. Data series covers the period between 1995 and 2000 for COFOG first-level (divisions) and from 2001 onwards for COFOG second-level (groups).
Prior to year 2008 the unit of measure was the Maltese Lira (Lm) and the conversion rate to euro used was the fixed rate of 0.4293.
Consistency is ensured within and between the COFOG table and the ESA transmission programme tables.