CIMA urges better performance management in the public sector

Managers and policy-makers in the public sector aren’t being supplied with adequate management information and can make better use of their finance function, argues a new report from CIMA.

“Public sector performance: A global perspective” suggests that central government has too narrow a view of the role of the finance function, confining it to stewardship and reporting, and advocates the adoption of the best available accounting and financial management practices.

The public sector also suffers from too many KPIs or targets and poor decision support, which makes it difficult to create a robust culture of evidence-based decision making.

The report promotes the need for better performance management and encourages decision-makers and policy-makers to demand the same level of information and support enjoyed by peers in the private sector.

Louise Ross, head of corporate performance management at CIMA, said: “Effective performance management is crucial to achieve sustainable and stable public finances, and to gain public confidence that tax revenues are being used effectively.

"Many governments suffer from a shortage of high-quality finance professionals, and finance functions that lack strategic influence. It is the role of the finance professional – and especially the management accountant – to provide information to support decision-making.”

Ian Ball, chief executive of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), contributed to the report, arguing that there has been a “systematic, pervasive, though possibly not deliberate, ignorance of the critical value and importance of good accounting” in the public sector.

To view the report, and a video of Louise discussing the findings with Noel Tagoe, CIMA head of research and development, please visit www.cimaglobal.com/publicperformance

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