Making Civil Society Integral to Public Financial Management Reforms


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Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms around the world are often designed and monitored by a handful of ‘technical experts’. Not in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone Integrated Public Financial Management Project (IPFMRP) is one of the few Bank-funded projects in which a Government has decided to channel $ 1.0 million of its grant funds to civil society to monitor the use of public funds.

Here are some emerging lessons from this ongoing experience:

The Bank can be an effective convener between government and civil society: During IPFMRP preparation, the Bank team played a key role in establishing a dialogue between the government and civil society (CSO) groups and in facilitating several important negotiations between the government and CSOs. At the start, the government suggested that civil society monitoring activities be managed by the donors outside the grant, even if it meant fewer resources for government within the grant. The CSOs debated the trade-off between the risk of unfair treatment by government against the option of fairer treatment, but the risk of being marginal players. In the end, both sides came out in favor of the potentially more rewarding but more difficult option. According to Vivek Srivastava, the Task Team Leader, “both parties had very legitimate and real concerns but showed remarkable maturity to arrive at a solution that helped establish a healthy partnership.”

Finding reform champions who have a common vision is key for effective partnership: A number of emerging champions are playing a key role in moving the partnership forward. Augustus Cole, the Director of PFM Reform in the Ministry of Finance, and one of the champions, says that he "believe[s] that open and frank discussion with civil society actors can help [them] make better policies”. Mohamed Sidi Bah, a civil society leader points out: “We realized that we can’t expect everything from governments and donors; we need to be part the debate, define our own priorities, and take advantage of the opportunities”.

Global initiatives have also helped in motivating the two-sides to work together. They now have a common goal: scoring high in the Open Budget Initiative (OBI). Sierra Leone will be included in the 2012 OBI rankings for the first time. The partners are now mobilizing its energy towards the publication of citizen’s budget for the first time in Sierra Leone. A citizen’s budget is one of the eight key documents to be evaluated by the OBI. Both the government and the civil society coalition see this as critical to help citizens better understand budgets, and to boost the country’s public image.

Government-civil society interaction needs to be a continuous process: With project funds, the government and CSOs started to exchange feedback on a systematic basis. In the past few months, the government invited CSOs regularly to budget discussions; and solicited their inputs for key pieces of legislation, including, most recently, the Audit Service bill. Civil society representatives now routinely participate in kick-off and wrap up meetings for Bank project missions. The government even included civil society representatives in a recruitment panel for a position under the project.

The government has also financed multiple trips for CSOs to attend international budget transparency and accountability trainings. The representatives returned home from these workshops with concrete recommendations on how to improve PFM processes in Sierra Leone. They also systematically share with other CSOs what they had learned abroad through a series of regional events that got wide media coverage.

ICTs can play an important role in linking national and local CSOs:  A key challenge is to extend this engagement beyond a few CSOs based in the capital city. To address this challenge, the civil society coalition appointed regional focal points and set up a group text-messaging system as the main mode of communication. They also set up a Facebook page to post messages, documents and exchange ideas through. Over the past few months, the use of ICT has helped enormously to expand the CSO network working on PFM reform.

Moving Forward: Can the Bank play a role?

Vijay Pillai, the World Bank’s country manager in Sierra Leone, feels that that “a useful role for the Bank in the near future is to continue to advocate for adequate space for an increasingly honest dialogue between the government, the parliament and civil society.  If that space continues to exist, we should expect the budget dialogue to get more robust with time.”

That remains to be seen. What is already clear, however, is that the Bank has a key role to play in providing the right incentives to the government and civil society counterparts.

Photo: NSA Reflection Workshop in Makene, Sierra Leone- 6.28.2011


Asli Gurkan

Social Development Specialist

Join the Conversation

Lanre Rotimi
November 09, 2011

Thank you for this submission. We commend the Bank; Serria Leon Governments and CSos' involved in this PFM Initiative. It is pertinent to note that Lessons Learnt set out in the submission, provide further evidence that contributors to PSM Discussion got it Right.

You have asked a direct question in this ongoing Sierra Leon PSM Inititive - Can the Bank play a Role? The correct answer is Yes. You have set out your thoughts in answer to this very important question. We agree with your answers.

We have the following additional comments:-
1. All NPM (New Public Management); PSM ( Public Sector Management); PSR (Public Sector Reform); PFM (Public Finance Management) and related Bank Initiative need to be CONSOLIDATED within the Bank New PSM Vision. We do hope that the PSM Document undergoing approval process can still include good ideas and suggestions before approval; dissemination and utilization and operationalize “Living Strategy” in Practice through continuing “Fine-tuning based on realities of Implementation" to improve the New PSM Approach in ways that effectively address current and future contemporary National / International Development Cooperation problems on the ground. This way, Positive ACTION will continuously taken on "Lessons Learnt" and “Best Practices” in any One Country could be Replicated on Successful and Sustainable Basis in other Countries.
2. What are the Minimum Certain Levels of Competencies - Hard Competences - Learning and Skills and Soft Competences - Character, Courage and Mindset in PFM: Development; Monitoring, Evaluation and Assessment; Service Delivery / Performance Management; Procurement etc that National and International Professionals on CSOs’ and Non CSOs’ sides; engaged in Sierra Leon PFM Project Monitoring need to have? Is it complete to undertake Sierra Leon PFM Project Monitoring that is not an integral part of Sierra Leon National Vision and International Vision e.g. MDGs’: Policy, Program, Project: Monitoring, Evaluation and Assessment as well as Sierra Leon National Vision and International Vision e.g. MDGs’: Outcomes Monitoring, Evaluation and Assessment?
3. Is it helpful to work towards achieving Sierra Leon National Vision and International Vision e.g. MDGs’ Ambition, that could be successful on sustainable basis, if such initiative is not an Integral Part of work towards achieving Dream of Sierra Leaon, Africa and World without Poverty? Our study finding is that NPN / PSM / PSR / PFM (whatever name called individually or jointly) is simply 1 out of 16 Poverty Priorities EAG has identified. The implication is that achieving increasing convergence between Sierra Leon National Vision and International Vision e.g. MDGs’: Intention and Reality need to be Driven by War against Poverty, Hunger, Disease and Environmental Degradation on one hand and War against Arrogance, Ignorance, Indifference, Incompetence, Injustice, Impunity and Corruption on the other hand.
4. The point on setting aside $1.0 million of its Grant Funds to Sierra Leon CSOs' cannot be overemphasized in its contribution to the success of this initiative thus far. However in operationalizing in practice – “More with Same” and “Human Resources as Most Valuable Assets” fundamental issues relating to Competencies Framework; Commissioning Framework and related matters, raised in PSM Discussions need to be effectively addressed.
5. The fundamental issue of Communication for Behavior Impact and Changing Attitude and Behavior at Scale, COMBI, appears to be demonstrated in an unstructured and informal manner in this ongoing PFM Initiative. We are aware of 3 Versions of COMBI Instruments – COMBI Hosein Version (Creator of COMBI Instrument); COMBI Lloyd Version and COMBI EAG Version. The first two versions are exclusive to Health Matters, including Sanitation and Hygiene. The third is the Most All Embracing, All Inclusive and Ambitions COMBI Version available in our World today for any specific 3PI within specific National / International Development Cooperations Initiative.
6. The COMBI EAG Version Design and Delivery is inspired by our Passion and Motivation; Driving Pursuit of our Cause – Help Make World Poverty History. The Instrument is more All Embracing, All Inclusive and Ambitious than both COMBI Hosein Version and COMBI Llyod Version. COMBI EAG Version effectively and efficiently focus on solutions and focus on opportunities; in the work towards achieving increasing convergence between National Visions e.g. Nigeria Transformation Agenda; Greece Economic Recovery etc / Global Visions e.g. MDGs 2000 – 2015; MDGs 2 2015 – 2030; G20 Global Solutions to Global Problems; One UN Initiative / Delivery as One(DaO) etc: Intention and Reality; within Development; Monitoring Evaluation and Assessment; Service Delivery / Performance Management; Democracy and Elections; Diplomacy; Procurement for Development; Management for Development Results; HR-PESCR (Human Rights in all its Ramifications – Political, Economic (Trade, Aid, Development), Social, Cultural and Religious): Intention and Reality.
7. Just as Dr. Kirkpatrick’s, Kirkpatrick Evaluation Framework, KEF, a Human Resource Development, HRD Instrument, correctly advise any Government / Organization / Entity using KEF, to appreciate that while KEF address the HRD Policy, Program, Project Interventions, 3PIs’, in the work towards strengthening its HRD Capacity; these HRD 3PIs’ need to be complimented simultaneously with Non HRD 3PIs’ for Best Results. Our study finding is that this sound advise apply with equal force to any Government / Organization / Entity deploying COMBI Instrument in its COMBI 3PIs. That is for Best Results the COMBI 3PIs’ need to be complimented simultaneously with Non COMBI 3PIs’; including HRD 3PIs’ using KEF and Non HRD 3PIs’ using relevant Instruments.
8. For Best Results in the deployment of COMBI EAG Version, any Government / Organization / Entity will have to deploy complimentary 13 Instruments simultaneously. The full list of Instruments in 3PCM and CSR Benefits Focused Approach is in the COMBI – CABS Paper. For Best Results in deploying all 14 Instruments within any 3PI within any National / International Development Cooperation Initiative. Relevant Technical Paper could be sent to interested Central Actors / Professionals.
a) Internal Consultants and External Consultants who have minimum certain levels of Hard Competencies – Learning and Skills and Soft Competencies – Character, Courage and Mindset within each Central Actors specific NPM / PSM / PSR / PFM 3PI, need to be identified, empowered, promoted and protected to effectively and efficiently support each Government / Organization / Entity Internal and External Customers in the Design and Delivery of 3PIs’ that correctly use each of the 14 Instruments in ways that help achieve increasing convergence between its National / Global Vision Intention and Reality.
b) All concerned Political Leaders; Public / Civil Service Leaders on Government / International Institutions sides in each 3PI need to support Professionals in (a) with adequate levels of Political Capital that Unlocks adequate levels of other Resources – Influence; Technical; Technology; Finance in ways that Promote and Protect within the 3PI Concepts of : Doing More with Same” and “Human Resources is Most Valuable Asset” etc. Lack of funds cannot thwart achieving specific NPM / PSM / PSR / PFM 3PI, if all concerned National and International Central Actors jointly DETERMINE to achieve SUCCESS on SUSTAINABLE Basis.
9. In our contribution to PSM Discussion, Blog records show that we were the first to identify need for “Correct Diagnosis”. In the latest Draft of PSM Approach Document, this idea has been credited to a team of Professionals that did not include our Lanre Rotimi. It is our hope that this omission would be corrected.
10. We have in private comments on the latest copy of Final Draft PSM Approach Document urged the Bank to recognize that “Correct Diagnosis” cannot stand on its own; it needs to be complimented by “Correct Prescription”; Correct Surgery” and “Correct Recovery Management” Driven by All Concerned Stakeholders – National and International “Joined Up Approach" towards Professionally tackling “Triple Challenge: Thinking Challenge; Implementation Challenge and Communication Challenge”. Again the submission provide evidence of the “Validity of these Good Ideas and Pertinent Suggestions”. However the ideas and suggestions, cannot be taken piece meal or cherry picked; they need to be pursued within National / Global Pilot Programs within all Stakeholders agreed Goals, Targets and Objectively Validated Indicators. The most advance such indicators are within the 3PCM and CSR Approach (Policy, Program, Project Cycle Management and Comprehensive Systemic Reform) – OAHMR Indicators (Ownership, Alignment, Harmony, Management for Results and Mutual Accountability) and OH2TLP Indicators – Openness, Honesty, Transparency, Transformation, Learning and Performance)
11. NPM, PSM, PSR, PFM etc cannot stand on its own. It needs to have strategic purpose e.g. Country level; help make Sierra Leon Poverty History; Region level; help make Africa Poverty History and Global level; help make World Poverty History.
12. Just as COMBI Plan call for Pilot Program; we called for Global, Regional and National Pilot Programs within New PSM Approach integrating and incorporating all existing and future Bank NPM, PSM, PSR, PFM etc Policy, Program, Project Interventions at each level.
13. We welcome support for CSOs / NGOs’ Volunteer Organizations, within New PSM Approach in (10 - 11). However, other Central Actors – Assessment Organizations; Research Organizations; Training Organizations, Opportunities Organization and Consultancy Firms; Service Users and Service Providers within all components of New PSM New Village to Global Research, Planning, Statistics, Implementation, Monitoring, Evaluation and Assessment Systems Fit for the 21st Century, NVtGRPSIME&ASF21C, need to be effectively identified, empowered, promoted and protected; thus deepening results already recorded in this interesting PFM Initiative. EAG is the only Institution in our world today that has all 6 Organizations within a "Single Institution". If any other similar Single Institution" exist, we are grateful for their contact details, made public for all to see.
14. The New PSM Initiative gave email [email protected] for those who wish to make comments privately or send documents direct. Can you or the webmaster please publish PFM email address for such purpose?

The New Bank PSM Approach is probably the most comprehensive initiative for achieving Bank “Dream of World without Poverty”. It is our hope that this positive development in Sierra Leon would encourage the Bank to FAST Track Design and Delivery of Global and National PSM Pilot Programs that operationalize in practice all good ideas and suggestions set out in PSM Discussion and related discussions, such as this.

The current developments in Europe wherein Country debts and Europe Debts are worsening World Fuel, Food, Finance, Trade, Terrorism and Climate Change problems and Global Recession problems on the ground in all European Countries; USA and Countries across the World present Bright Prospects of Success in the practical implementation of PSM ideas and suggestions within Global and National Pilot Programs suggested above. The Ball is in Bank Court.

Lanre Rotimi
Global Center for Learning in Evaluation and Results
International Society for Poverty Elimination /
Economic Alliance Group
Secretariat to MPCOP-PE&ES and 3PCM and CSR Project
Abuja Nigeria; Kent UK