Public finance management

Public finance and public administration are at the heart of development. If development is about transforming state, society and economy, having capable institutions able to raise, deploy and account for effective use of public funds is indispensable.

Bangladesh, Patuakhali district - Copyright Sven Torfinn

Public finance matters for development. For many countries, poor public financial management systems represent a major constraint on their ability to turn high-level policy ambitions into real-life outcomes. If developing countries can’t raise money fairly, execute credible spending plans and account for the use of taxpayer funds, they will struggle to deliver the economic, social and political change their citizens expect.

Despite decades of mixed progress in the field, the policy debate on public financial management reform remains dominated by a discourse on choosing the ‘right’ tools for these deep-seated problems – usually without reference to the wider political context. Our research is part of a growing movement that tries to put public financial management reform firmly within the everyday realities of the national institutional and political context.

We focus on the following areas:

  • How and where does public financial management matter, and how can we measure its impact?
  • What is the role of institutions and politics for public finance and public sector management?
  • What can external actors do to strengthen government institutions, support transparency and accountability?
  • How can governments use domestic revenues to take charge of their own development agenda?