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Public financial management introductory guides


Written by Mark Miller, Cathal Long, Bryn Welham, Shakira Mustapha, Tom Hart, Sierd Hadley


This series of introductory guides offers insights into key topics in public financial management (PFM). They are written specifically for capacity-constrained environments and provide an overview and discussion of the main issues related to each key topic, highlighting useful literature.

Low-income and low-capability states are frequently advised by donors to attempt similar kinds of PFM reforms.  Within the literature, there is plenty of guidance on ‘best practice’ for these PFM reforms setting out the expected benefits, what the ‘correct’ form should be and how reforms should ideally be delivered.  However, there is relatively less information available about how frequently attempted PFM reforms tend to work in practice in low-income and low-capability states, and on the gap that often exists between ‘best practice’ and the actual reality on the ground. In addition, some of the literature on PFM reform assumes a familiarity with a number of concepts and background issues that may be lacking in certain reform environments. Each introductory guide includes practical suggestions on how capacity-constrained governments can approach reforms, together with brief outlines of other countries’ experiences of PFM reform. 

These introductory guides aim to help overcome these problems by providing an insight into the PFM reforms that are frequently attempted in low-income and low-capability environments. They put forward practical suggestions for how government could approach thinking about these issues, and briefly outline the experience of other countries in delivering these kinds of reforms. They are not intended to be detailed guides to reform. They are based on a review of key literature supplemented by the experience of ODI staff working in these areas.

The introductory guides cover the areas of cash management in cash-constrained environments; public investment management; the ministry of finance 'challenge function'; fiscal decentralisation; and organising the strategic phase of the budget process.

These introductory guides are also available in French. Ces guides d’introduction a la gestion des finances publiques sont disponibles en Français.