CIPFA changing the world of public financial management


CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is a long-time advocate of strengthening public financial management (PFM). We strongly believe this can only be achieved by taking a holistic view of the strengths and weaknesses of public financial management systems that are operating within a country and/or organisation. A good PFM system is critical for supporting poverty reduction and the achievement of a country’s sustainable development goals.

This year at our Annual Conference in Manchester the Whole Systems Approach (WSA) to PFM was re-launched, and to support the WSA, we developed a new online portal that provides critical information and links to other sources of guidance and tools to help public sector organisations around the world deliver excellent public finances.

The WSA was first released in 2010 to help organisations improve their approach to PFM. This was supported by the Department of International Development (DfID) and since its introduction has been used by a number of countries to support PFM development. For example, it underpins the roadmap for building effective financial reporting systems and professional education and training programmes in Zimbabwe. Similarly, the principles outlined in the WSA have been applied in Uganda. It has real practical use for organisations wanting to strengthen their PFM systems.

The WSA has been revised to reflect the latest in best practice, changes in other international frameworks and CIPFA’s significant experience in supporting PFM reforms.
In addition to the updated WSA publication, which can be found online, we have also launched a new portal, which uniquely covers all the constituent parts of the WSA, something that has not been done before by any other organisation. The Developing Excellent Public Finance (DEPF) portal brings together explanatory information and links to relevant guidance covering the four main areas that are fundamental to strong PFM including:

  1. good governance in public services 
  2. external PFM elements (key legislation, standards, transparency and scrutiny)
  3. internal PFM elements (strategy and planning, budget execution and performance monitoring)
  4. use of accrual-based information at all stages, which is crucial to the effective operation of all these.
Ian Carruthers, CIPFA’s Standards Chair, who launched the updated WSA and the new portal, commented:

“The CIPFA WSA brings all the key elements of PFM that are necessary for strong governance together. The updated version will offer up-to-date support for organisations that are aiming to strengthen their PFM systems and processes in order to boost their outputs delivery and outcomes achievement.

“The accompanying portal provides explanation and links to further information and tools to help improve PFM around the world. It is very exciting that CIPFA has pulled together all the relevant PFM information and literature in one online portal.”

Delivering Excellent Public Finance (DEPF) portal