Generic Framework for Improved Analysis of Public Sector Planning Budgeting and Reporting (PBR) Systems


Public sector expenditure consumes a sizable proportion of world GDP and affects the well-being of everyone impacted by public services. Being able to optimize the quality of public sector planning, budgeting and reporting (PBR), in addition to effectively measuring its impact is of major importance. Even a few percent improvement in public sector performance can mean increased well-being for vast numbers of people.

The detailed mechanisms of specific country’s public sector planning, budgeting and reporting systems tend to be entangled with the particular, sometimes idiosyncratic, political and legislative apparatus of the country in question. It therefore takes time to work out how the system within a particular country works, to strip out its idiosyncratic aspects and to distil the key features of the particular system. Identifying the key features of these systems is essential for making comparisions between countries when evaluating and comparing different systems in order to improve the way we do public sector PBR.

Coming to grips with the overview and details of a particular country’s system prior to using what is discovered to think about how to improve one’s own system can be a labor intensive exercise.

This paper provides a generic framework for analyzing public sector PBR systems with a view to aiding the analysis and comparison of systems in different countries. The framework consists of two parts.

The first part is the Annual Public Sector Planning, Budgeting and Reporting Cycle. This sets out the key stages in a country’s public sector annual planning cycle. The institutions and agencies that are responsible for each stage of the process in any particular country can be mapped onto the Cycle in order to: first, assist comparisons between the way different agencies in different countries are invovled in particular steps; and, secondly to identify any potential gaps in a specific country’s system.

The second model within the framework is a more analytical model drawn from outcomes theory that speeds the analysis of the conceptuals issues that confuse much analysis of public sector PBR systems. The Outcomes System Diagram provides a framework for discussing the key conceptual issue in the design of public sector PBR systems. These are: separately identifying the components of planning, monitoring and evaluation within such systems; having a way of clearly identifying the level at which agency accountabily is struck within a particular system; showing the relationship between indicator measurement, impact evaluation and proving attribution; and, showing the relationship between evaluation for performance improvement when implementing a program, impact evaluation and economic evaluation.

In order to illustate the utility of the framework across the range of public sector systems, examples are given from analysis of two quite different public sector PBR systems. The two systems used for illustrative purposes are the New Zealand system, an example of a country that has been an international innovator in public sector PBR which has made the transition from an input-based system to an outputs-based system and is currently working on the issue of ensuring that the outputs that are being produced are optimal to achieve priority outcomes, and Indonesia, an example of a public sector PBR which is currently making the transition from an inputs-based system to an outputs-based system.

The first model, the Public Sector PBR Cycle is shown in the Figure below. It starts the annual planning cycle with politicians identifying their annual high-level priorities and steps through each part of the annual planning, budgeting and reporting cycle. Each stage in the cycle is numbered according to the type of institution that typcially undertakes it where P is for Politicians, C is for Central Agencies, A is for delivery agencies, M is for multi-agency work and R is for Research and Evaluation work.