Spending review, as I wrote recently, will be needed more than ever in the post-pandemic era. Surely, then, it is encouraging that there has over the past decade been a major expansion in the number of countries practicing spending review? Well, yes, but there is a problem. The problem is that in some countries, the […]
One of the problems which bedevils performance budgeting – and performance management more generally – is the failure of some to clearly distinguish between performance indicators and performance targets, and to properly understand the roles of each. Take the often-repeated mantra that “performance indicators must be SMART.” I’d love to have a dollar for every […]
It is shocking that, in quite a few countries which embarked on performance budgeting reforms years ago, performance indicators remain awful. Performance indicators are, after all, a basic building block of any performance budgeting system. Yet OECD surveys – most recently in 2018 – have repeatedly shown that in half of member countries, available performance […]
I’ve commented previously on the widespread tendency to exaggerate the impact of population ageing on public expenditure. Sure, it is an important source of upward spending pressure, particularly on long-term care and pensions. However, by far the biggest single area of spending pressure in coming decades will be health, and population ageing plays only a […]
With government debt levels now at exceptionally high levels, many economists and policymakers are reflecting deeply on the challenge of how debt can be reduced to fiscally sustainable levels over the longer term. A few voices have, however, been raised to argue that we should stop worrying about debt and shift our focus to a […]
Disciplined decision-making about new spending is crucial to good budgeting. Yet it is something which is absent, or weak, in many countries. This is particularly true in developing countries, but is by no means confined to them. A key part of the problem is of course the nature of politics, which creates a powerful bias […]
Governments will in the coming years need spending review more than ever before. Given the big surge in new spending which is currently underway, this might seem a strange statement. Spending review is, after all, the systematic search for areas where government spending can be cut. Many will argue that the last thing we need […]
[Warning: this is a technical blogpiece for public financial management specialists] Is moving to a accrual budgeting a good idea? This is a question I am asked from time to time. It is a controversial matter which needs to be carefully considered by any country contemplating making this move. Accrual budgeting has benefits, but also […]
The Financial Times has listed “Bigger Government” as one of the best economics books of 2020. The FT’s chief economics commentator, Martin Wolf, writes that the book is “quantitative, meticulous and sobering”. Read the review here.
My interview on Australian ABC Radio National’s program “The Money” (Oct 29) on Bigger Government is now available on YouTube.