Posted by Holger van Eden, with support from Sasha Pitrof
If there is a theme in the best read blog posts of 2011, it is perhaps the continuing struggle in the PFM profession to improve the performance of government expenditure. Given the ongoing major adjustments of governments around the world, and especially in Europe, it is perhaps not surprising that doing “more with less” or even doing “less with even less” is high on the agenda. At number 7 our colleague Guilhem Blondy describes how in a developing country as Mali the budget has only gradually become more effective, more aligned with the strategic objectives of government, by introducing program budgeting, but not forgetting to improve basic budget functions. At number 6 Sanjay Vani from the World Bank describes how waste and inefficiency plague even advanced countries’ public sectors through a lack of incentives and excessive zeal for procedure. Blog post number 4 from David Gentry, the Fund’s PFM Advisor in Mongolia discusses the dilemmas of actually rewarding success in the government. If agencies achieve all their objectives isn’t that a sign that they could do with a smaller budget? But if this is carried through then of course no agency will want to perform well. Performance management and budgeting remains an area were the profession is still looking for practical approaches.
The top three this year is a very diverse bunch. The World Bank’s Cen Dener reports at number 3 that the Bank now understands better how to make the development of Financial Management Information Systems a success, and perhaps that criticism on the Bank in the past has been overdone. At number 2, one of our star bloggers, Richard Allen, describes how on the one hand national planning systems are essential for development (even for advanced economies?), but on the other hand should, in developing countries, be less directive and more aligned with medium-term budgeting. Finally, many congratulations to the winner of the best read blog post of the year, Carla Sateriale, our talented, research assistant in the PFM divisions of the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD). In an interview with our former director, Vito Tanzi, she managed to elicit some sage advice on how academics and policy makers should remain grounded in reality, and know there history.
If you haven’t read up on all these interesting topics, please find the top ten blogs of the year below. On behalf of us here at the PFM Blog, I would like to thank all our authors for their productivity and our readers for their attention. Happy New Year to all!