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When Unit Costs Don’t Work (2/4)

In this blog piece — the second of a four-part series on unit cost budgeting — I look at why unit cost budgeting cannot be applied to outputs which are highly “heterogeneous,” of which there are many in government. This is one of the main reasons why unit cost budgeting should be viewed as a […]

Unit Cost Budgeting? (1/4)

Funding public services based on output unit costs is a great idea. However, it only works for selected government services. The idea that the entire government budget should be based on output unit costs is therefore misguided. This series of four blog pieces looks at why this is a tool with strictly limited application in […]

The Illusion of Outcome-Based Budgeting

The notion that performance budgeting means budgeting based on outcomes is surprisingly widespread. It is, however, a misconception – a misconception which has led to confusion and missteps in PFM reform in some countries, particularly in the developing world. Outcome-based budgeting refers to the idea that governments should budget by deciding the outcomes they wish […]

Making Spending Review Fit for Purpose

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 […]

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Non-Performing Performance Indicators

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 […]

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Accrual Budgeting: Think Carefully Before Jumping

[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 […]