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Can Developing Countries Leapfrog in Government Performance Management


April 16, 2012

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Government Performance Management is considerably more difficult than Corporate Performance Management.  Does this mean that instituting performance management tools effectively is more difficult in developed or developing countries?

Technology Leapfrog

Timor Leste Minister’s Dashboard

The notion of technology leapfrog is that developing countries can skip the incremental steps taken for developed countries to modernize.  Open systems and open standards can be used.  Client/server and wired internet stages can be avoided. The classic example of technology leapfrog is Estonia where the Internet “now tightly entwined with Estonia’s identity.”

The Government of Thailand demonstrates “technology leapfrog” in e-government with a roadmap that includes c-Government (Connected Government), m-Government (Mobile and Multichannel Government) and u-Government (Ubiquitous Government).

Yet, isn’t “government performance management” too complex for developing countries?  Not  necessarily – as we have seen in Timor-Leste where performance dashboards are used and government results provided to the public.

Advantages in Developing Countries

There may not be sufficient capacity in some governments to fully leverage budget-centric performance management tools.  But there are advantages:

  • Centralized information: Developing countries tend to have fewer information systems with more centralized systems. Data from sub-national entities is more accessible. And, governments in developing countries are more likely to support public sector and information technology standards to facilitate data collection
  • Holistic understanding: Managers in developing countries look at performance and the nature of government in a more holistic way that those in the “West”. Performance Management tools differ from traditional Business Intelligence through a holistic view of performance. In particular, Ministers and senior managers are attuned to macroeconomic effects like commodity prices.
  • Development effects: The impact of improved performance is more significant in developing country. Government performance improvements positively affects development results, business confidence, investor Investment, aid effectiveness and remittances.
  • Competitive differentiation Improving government performance has a more significant impact for developing countries in the global economy. Governments are more motivated to improve “doing business“, “revenue watch” or “open budget” indexes to create a better business and development environment.
Timor-Leste has achieved “comprehensive” extractive industries revenue transparency

Transparency is Aligned to Performance

The key first step to government performance management is transparency. Transparency is one of the measurements used in international government performance assessments like Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA):


B. KEY CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES: Comprehensiveness and Transparency
PI-5 Classification of the budget
PI-6 Comprehensiveness of information included in budget documentation
PI-7 Extent of unreported government operations
PI-8 Transparency of inter-governmental fiscal relations
PI-9 Oversight of aggregate fiscal risk from other public sector entities.
PI-10 Public access to key fiscal information

Transparency is more than a superficial step to government performance, as these videos from the Open Government and  International Budget Partnerships describe. Transparency motivates accountability which improves performance.

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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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