A guide to public financial management literature for practitioners in developing countries

Toolkits
December 2011
Rebecca Simson, Natasha Sharma and Imran Aziz

This guide has been prepared for people seeking to deepen their knowledge on public financial management (PFM) in developing countries. It caters to the needs of newcomers to the field who want to familiarise themselves with the introductory PFM literature, as well as practitioners broadening their PFM knowledge beyond their own area of expertise.

This guide is expected to evolve based feedback from a wide variety of sources. As such, we welcome your comments and suggestions for improvement. Please contact Rebecca Simson with any comments or queries. 

The paper is divided into two main parts. Part I provides an overview of the budget cycle architecture and recommends literature that describes what a sound PFM system looks like and explains why. It also highlights specific areas where there is disagreement about the best approach, or where implementation practices differ widely between countries.

Part II sheds light on the gap between theory and practice, tackling the challenges low capacity and political and economic realities pose for the ideal PFM system. The literature covers PFM reform strategies on how to prioritise and phase reforms and what preconditions are required for reforms to be successful. It also discusses PFM diagnostic tools and some findings from evaluations of PFM programmes.

Each part is divided into two sections. The first gives a brief overview of the topic: it introduces the reader to the concepts and issues covered in the recommended reading. The second lists readings by topic. It briefly describes the material and indicates what situations the reference will be useful in and why. Links to country examples and case studies are also provided.