UK case study
What is the public sector like in your country?
Natalia Cruz Fajardo, Consolidation Accountant within WGA, HM Treasury, UK:
Life in the UK public sector can be defined, I think, in three words, diverse, exciting and rewarding.
Richard Hughes, Director of Fiscal Policy, HM Treasury, UK:
By contrast to its reputation outside of the public sector, I think the public sector in UK is actually a very innovative, dynamic and creative place to work.
Kevin Pertaub, Head of Whole of Government Accounts, HM Treasury, UK:
I think the main thing that sticks out is the dedication of the people that work in the public sector. Everyone understands that they're here for something that's slightly bigger than themselves, and they do commit more than I think you'd see in some other walks of life.
What is the public finance initiative?
Whole of government accounts (WGA) is a single consolidate set of IFRS compliant financial statements for the entire public sector. It's an enormous undertaking; over 7000 entities will consolidate into 2016/17 accounts. And it provides a single authoritative picture of assets, liabilities, income and expenditure across the entire public sector.
Olivia Halliday, Head of Balance Sheet Management, HM Treasury, UK:
So the Balance Sheet Review (BSR) is about understanding the government's balance sheet better, starting with the WGA accounts, and then getting more value from limited resources and enabling the government to deliver more through better balance sheet management.
The idea behind the BSR is to apply the kinds of scrutiny and discipline that we do to spending through our spending reviews, or to tax through our annual budget process, to those assets and liabilities, and look at ways in which we can reduce the cost of our liabilities and get a better return from the assets.
How is this initiative making a difference for citizens?
James Bowler, Director General of Public Spending, HM Treasury, UK:
I think the main difference it makes is one of transparency. So, in one document, we can tell people what the country owns and what it owes.
Vicky Rock, Head of Government Financial Reporting , HM Treasury, UK:
Knowing the full cost of the decisions you're making, or the possible savings, gives you the information that you need for better decision making, better management of your risks, and better identification of opportunities.
I think the difference lies in that it provides a tool with which citizens across the country, and people elected on their behalf, can scrutinise the financial position and performance of the UK public sector.
What difference does it make for a country to have good PFM in place?
I think it's really important for taxpayers and citizens to know where their money is being spent and the state of the public finances.
I've worked in public financial management (PFM) here in the UK, but also around the world. And I've really found that good financial management really is the foundation for good policy making.
What would you like to say to other financial professionals implementing PFM reform around the world?
I think that if you're looking to implement PFM reform, then you need to think about what you need to do in order to deliver a sustainable reform.
You've got to start with good frameworks and good governance, something like WGA, cannot exist overnight. It’s the result of decades of work.
I think one key critical success factor is real stakeholder engagement to embed long term change. You can't implement reform without working with others.
I wish my colleagues around the world the very best of luck in trying to manage all the competing priorities they have and try and get the best institutions and frameworks to do that.