Harvard academic issues call for better measures of PFM success

14 Nov 13
Better indicators are needed if international organisations are to measure the success of public financial management reforms in developing countries, Matt Andrews, associate professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, has said.

By Judith Ugwumadu | 14 November 2013

Better indicators are needed if international organisations are to measure the success of public financial management reforms in developing countries, Matt Andrews, associate professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, has said.

Speaking at the Overseas Development Institute’s annual Centre for Aid and Public Expenditure conference in London today, Andrews said if reformers were going to focus on the ‘functionalities’ of PFM, they needed to understand what they were working towards.

‘If we are going to go function over form we need to know what we are talking about and we need to have that conversation,’ he said.

But he acknowledged that there was a lack of a ‘matrix’ that identified what good functionality looked liked.

Andrews, who is an expert on PFM reform in developing governments, challenged delegates as a group and as an international community to work out what functionality meant and to create measures ‘that matter so we can put some meaning behind this function-over-form agenda’.

Andrews said leadership also mattered. ‘Have someone visionary and a champion who keeps your boat going in the right direction and we end up producing the thing that we wanted.’

He explained that although PFM reforms involved many organisations and a large portion of a country’s government, they were very complex and required a lot of ideas.

Reforms should be ‘immediately actioned with consistent introduction’ after a solution had been agreed. He added that it was important for reformers to understand that they should not assume ‘they have political support, but assume that you need to build it’.

 

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