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Why are Government Financial Management System Users not Using these Systems Properly?


July 10, 2013

2 sets of books?

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Professor Matt Andrews in his book Limits of Institutional Reform and in his Leaders in Development executive education course described his experience of seeing users of government Financial Management Information Systems (FMIS) using paper-based accounting books. The government produces financial statements that look good and claim to have good financial controls – yet with little or no change to behaviour and informal processes.

There is no simple answer to why FMIS users do not use systems properly. The result is inaccurate data for decision-making, lack of fiscal controls and opportunities for corruption. Andrews recommends a root-cause analysis as part the Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA). The 5 Whys.

FreeBalance is a provider of Government Resource Planning (GRP) systems, oten called FMIS in the industry. So, I`ve been pondering the barriers to proper usage of these systems:

  1. Systems that have been implemented are too difficult to use
  2. The government lacks requisite human capacity 
  3. There are no incentives to using systems properly
  4. There is no way to identify whether the systems are properly used
  5. There is a lack of trust in the systems

The mind map identifies some of the reasons underlying each of these 5 barriers. This is clearly a set of complicated problems of which only a few of these can be overcome by product. FreeBalance has achieved more success than competing vendors based on a product set that is designed for government and implementation expertise from consultants who understand the domain. We`ve been upgrading our processes and partnerships to overcome capacity, information technology and change management challenges over the past few years.

Product-related changes with Version 7 of the FreeBalance Accountability Suite address some elements of the first and fourth why:

  • Ability to deploy with simpler processes and progressively activate to meet changing government needs
  • Ease of translation and change of terminology
  • Adaptable help to put in documentation specific to the processes used by the government (beyond generic help)
  • Full audit trail
  • Alerts and monitoring


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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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