March 22, 2011Doug Hadden
Doug Hadden, VP Products
Many experts have warned developing nations for trying too many reforms at once. Governments need capacity: technical infrastructure and human capacity to make reforms sustainable. The “platform” approach is a practice that recognizes these constraints and provide a series of reform steps. The completion of a stage or platform enables the government to move to the next stage. Risk is mitigated. Reform follows a course set by the country context.
So why are so many countries accelerating PFM reform?
We are witnessing some remarkable reforms in FreeBalance government customers. Although, as a GRP provider, with PFM experts, we are supporting these initiatives – it is important to recognize that these are country-driven:
- Government of Afghanistan rolling out financial management to all provinces without any outside technical assistance, when it was thought by many experts to be impossible.
- Government of Kosovo decentralizing budget management and purchasing.
- Government of Timor-Leste rolling out a financial transparency portal with 10 years of budget data.
Should we Think of a New Platform Approach?
Projects tend to have preparation, pilot, production and sustainability phases. Should a government begin preparing of the next stage only after the previous stage has been fully rolled out and deemed sustainable? The skill sets necessary for each phase within a stage or platform differ.
PFM reform has a learning curve. Should the time required for a subsequent platform of the same scope be planned for a similar time frame? Should the roll-out of technology to line ministries or sub-national governments take longer than the initial stage with the Ministry of Finance?
A more agile platform approach is needed these approach should include:
- Overlapping phases or platforms based on government capacity.
- Recognition of planning can begin for a subsequent phase while completing the pilot of the previous phase.
- Focus on capacity building so that rolling out reforms will follow a learning curve and accelerate at a standard rate.
- Flexibility to adapt the goals of the next platform based on current results. For example, the outcome of Platform 1 may result in more information that adjusts the goals of Platform 3.