Public financial management reform programmes are often designed to address a perceived ‘gap’ between best and current practice in developing countries. However, the available capacity in developing countries is often far from sufficient to effectively implement and maintain best practice reforms. In some environments this capacity deficit may be unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.
This paper discusses two issues. Firstly, a review of the theoretical and empirical links between PFM functions and specific development outcomes so that reformers might consider prioritising reforms based on the outcomes they wish to achieve. Secondly it reviews a range of capacity substitution and capacity supplementation options that might be appropriate in situations of prolonged or permanent low capacity.