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Reforming for results: Can public finance management reform improve government performance?

Hero image description: CAPE conference 2008 Image license:ODI given rights



Towards a more strategic and efficiency-oriented approach to strengthening public finance management in developing and transition countries.

The 2008 CAPE Public Finance Conference investigated how PFM reforms can be better targeted towards delivering improved performance in public service delivery. It examined the interplay among different actors in cases of successful reform, and the contribution of sector-level, decentralised and demand-side PFM reforms to improving strategic resource allocation and operational efficiency. The conference considered how to achieve better outcomes from PFM reform efforts through approaches which extend beyond primary engagement with ministries of finance and which attempt to deepen reforms. It asked whether current trends towards more holistic system-wide PFM reform programmes are the solution, or whether more targeted approaches to PFM reform might lead to more effective and sustainable reform outcomes.

The conference aimed to reach policy-relevant conclusions and to contribute to debate on the wider question of what constitutes successful PFM reform and how can it be given effect.

The event brought together researchers and academics on public finance management and reform; senior public sector officials from developing and transition countries; PFM specialists from donor agencies engaged in the design and implementation of government reform programmes; and leading practitioners and consultants on PFM.

ODI would like to thank DFID, Irish Aid and GTZ for their support.

For further infomation please contact Edward Hedger ([email protected]) or Geoff Handley ([email protected]) of the Centre for Aid and Public Expenditure (CAPE).

Conference programme

Introduction and keynote session
Linking reform to performance: How can PFM reforms be better focused on ensuring government delivers better public services?

Chair: Simon Maxwell, Director, ODI

    • Introduction to Conference
      Edward Hedger, Research Fellow, ODI
    • Keynote Address
      Emilia Pires, Minister of Finance, Timor-Leste

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Download keynote address by Minister Pires, PDF

Session 1
The role of the Ministry of Finance and centre of government: What are the opportunities for and limitations of the centre of government, especially the Ministry of Finance, to influence spending entities in strengthening their own PFM systems and service delivery performance?

Chair: Alison Evans, Director of Programmes, Poverty and Public Policy Group, ODI

    • The role and capabilities of the Central Finance Agency in the PFM reform process
      Jim Brumby, Lead Public Sector Specialist, World Bank, and Björn Dressel, Research Fellow, Griffith University
    • Driving government performance through the Ministry of Finance
      Graham Scott, Executive Chairman, Southern Cross Advisers; former Secretary to the Treasury, New Zealand
    • Country case: Linking policy, budgeting and service delivery in Albania
      Sherefedin Shehu, Deputy Minister of Finance, Albania

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Session 2
The role of sectors and sector spending agencies: How can sectors and spending agencies be engaged most effectively in PFM reforms, with a view to improving government performance?

Chair: Catherine Dom, Principal Consultant, Mokoro Ltd

    • Sector budgeting and resource allocation
      Mick Foster, Director, Mick Foster Economics Ltd
    • Sector PFM and service delivery
      Tim Williamson, Research Associate, ODI
    • Country case: Efforts to improve performance in the education sector in Uganda
      Florence Malinga, Education Adviser, Commonwealth Secretariat; former Commissioner for Planning, Ministry of Education, Uganda
    • Country case: Getting the best return on your investment – Lessons learnt from the education system in England
      Leigh Sandals, Director, ISOS Partnership; former Head of Performance and Capability, Department for Children Schools and Families, UK

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Session 3
The role of decentralised tiers of government: How can decentralised tiers of government be engaged most effectively in PFM reforms, with a view to improving government performance?

Chair: Lynne McKenzie, Managing Director, Southern Cross Advisers

    • Fiscal decentralisation and local government PFM: An overview
      Paul Smoke, Professor of Public Finance and Planning, New York University
    • Performance-based grant systems: A tool for improved accountability and enhanced performance
      Jesper Steffensen, Senior Partner, Nordic Consulting Group
    • Country case: Regional finance reform in Russia
      Alexey Lavrov, Director of Budget Policy and Methodology, Ministry of Finance, Russian Federation; former Head of Regional Finance Reform Programme 

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Session 4
The role of donors and international organisations: What role should donors play in advancing PFM reforms and how should they decide where to target their assistance among ministries of finance and spending entities?

Chair: Andrew Lawson, Director, Fiscus Ltd

    • World Bank support for PFM and procurement: Conceptual roots and evidence of impact
      Clay Wescott, Visiting Fellow, Princeton University, USA; Director, Asia-Pacific Governance Institute
    • Country case: The role of donors and international organisations and PFM – The case of Mozambique
      José Sulemane, Adviser to Executive Director of Africa Constituency I, International Monetary Fund; former National Director of Planning and Finance, Mozambique
    • Donor case: SIDA’s approach to PFM reform
      James Donovan, Public Financial Management Advisor, SIDA
    • PFM reform strategy: What role for donor agencies? – Isomorphism and the limits of PFM reform
      Matt Andrews, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, USA

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Drawing policy-relevant lessons: Comments and reflections from conference session chairs

Chair: Alison Evans, Director of Programmes, ODI

    • Björn Dressel, Research Fellow, Griffith University
    • Catherine Dom, Principal Consultant, Mokoro Ltd
    • Lynne McKenzie, Managing Director, Southern Cross Advisers
    • Andrew Lawson, Director, Fiscus Ltd