Monday, December 5, 2011

Good Text Book on Public Policy

    Section I:  What Is Public Policy?

    Chapter 1:  Public Decision Making
    Chapter 2:  Why Is It So Hard to Make the World a Better Place?

    Section II:  Why We Do What We Do

    Chapter 3:  Understanding Individual Behavior:  Rational Man and Woman
    Chapter 4:  Understanding Group Behavior:  Collective Action        
    Chapter 5:  Evaluating Social Welfare

    Section III:  Markets and Government

    Chapter 6:  The Political Process
    Chapter 7:  The Market System
    Chapter 8:  The Role of Government

    Section IV: Tools for Analysis

    Chapter 9:  Gathering and Measuring Information
    Chapter 10:  Basic Data Analysis
    Chapter 11:  Introduction to Regression Analysis
    Chapter 12:  Benefit-Cost Analysis
    Chapter 13:  Program Evaluation

    Section V:  Making Policy

    Chapter 14:  The Role of Institutions
    Chapter 15:  Policy Design

Introduction to Public Policy by Charles Wheelan

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics

1. Overview , Peter Smith and Sherry Glied

The Organization of Health Care Systems
2. Health Systems in Industrialized Countries , Bianca K. Frogner, Peter S. Hussey, and Gerard F. Anderson
3. Health Systems in Low and Middle Income Countries , Anne Mills
4. The Political Economy of Health Care , Carolyn Tuohy and Sherry Glied
5. The Promise of Health: Evidence of the Impact of Health on Income and Well-Being , William Jack
Determinants of Health
6. Health Production , Kristian Bolin
7. Socioeconomic Status and Health: Dimensions and Mechanisms , David M. Cutler, Adriana Lleras-Muney, and Tom Vogl
8. Determinants of Health in Childhood , Michael Baker and Mark Stabile
9. Economics of Infectious Diseases , Ramanan Laxminarayan and Anup Malani
10. Economics of Health Behaviours and Addictions: Contemporary Issues and Policy Implications , Donald S. Kenkel and Jody Sindelar
11. Economic and Mental Health: An International Perspective , Richard G. Frank
Institutions of Health Care Finance
12. Public Sector Health Care Financing , Ake Blomqvist
13. Voluntary Private Health Insurance , Peter Zweifel
14. Health Care Cost Growth , Michael E. Chernew and Dustin May
15. User Charges , Erik Schokkaert and Carine Van de Voorde
Economic Problems of Health Care Finance
16. Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care , Mark V. Pauly
17. Guaranteed Access to Affordable Coverage in Individual Health Insurance Markets , Wynand P.M.M. van de Ven and Frederik T. Schut
18. Managed Care , Laurence Baker
The Institutions of Health Care Supply
19. Hospitals: Teaming Up , Pedro Pita Barros and Pau Olivella
20. Primary Care , Anthony Scott and Stephen Jan
21. The Global Health Workforce , Till Barnighausen and David E. Bloom
22. The Economics of the Biopharmaceutical Industry , Patricia M. Danzon
23. Disease Prevention, Health Care and Economics , Jane Hall
24. Long-Term Care , Jose-Luis Fernandez, Julien Forder and Martin Knapp
Economic Problems of Health Care Supply
25. Physician Agency and Payment for Primary Medical Care , Thomas G. McGuire
26. Provider Payment and Incentives , Jon B. Christianson and Douglas Conrad
27. Non-Price Rationing and Waiting Times , Tor Iversen and Luigi Siciliani
28. Increasing Competition between Providers in Health Care Markets: The Economic Evidence , Carol Propper and George Leckie
Assessing Performance
29. Measuring Organisational Performance , Jim Burgess and Andrew Street
30. Health System Productivity , Jack E. Triplett
31. The Methods of Cost-Effectiveness Analysis to Inform Decisions about the Use of Health Care Interventions and Programmes , Simon Walker, Mark Sculpher and Mike Drummond
32. Analysing Uncertainty in Cost-effectiveness for Decision Making , Susan Griffin and Karl Claxton
33. Health Utility Measurement , Donna Rowen and John Brazier
Economic Perspectives on Fairness
34. Concepts of Equity and Fairness in Health and Health Care , Jan Abel Olsen
35. Measuring Inequality and Inequity in Health and Health Care , Eddy van Doorslaer and Tom Van Ourti
36. Intergenerational Aspects of Health Care , Louise Sheiner
Economic Methodology and Health Policy
37. Econometric Evaluation of Health Policies , Andrew M. Jones and Nigel Rice
38. Health Economics and Policy: The Challenges of Proselytising , Alan K. Maynard and Karen Bloor

Healthcare Reform

For Discussion: From where do we start reforming health sector in poor countries? What would be entry points? What countries can be considered best practice- Thailand, Estonia, Rwanda? What lessons can be drawn from OECD countries?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Assorted on Open Government

Jobs in PFM

Performance Auditing Best Practice

Climate Engineering: Technical Status, Future Directions, and Potential Responses;
Climate engineering technologies do not now offer a viable response to global climate change. Experts advocating research to develop and evaluate the technologies believe that research on these technologies is urgently needed or would provide an insurance policy against worst case climate scenarios--but caution that the misuse of research could bring new risks. Government reports and the literature suggest that research progress will require not only technology studies but also efforts to improve climate models and data. The technologies being proposed have been categorized as carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM). CDR would reduce the atmospheric concentration of CO2, allowing more heat to escape and thus cooling the Earth. For example, proposed CDR technologies include enhancing the uptake of CO2 in oceans and forests and capturing CO2 from air chemically for storage underground. SRM technologies would place reflective material in space or in Earth's atmosphere to scatter or reflect sunlight (for example, by injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere to scatter incoming solar radiation or brightening clouds) or would increase the planet's reflectivity (for example, by painting roofs and pavements in light colors). GAO found these technologies currently immature, many with potentially negative consequences. Some studies say, for example, that stratospheric aerosols might greatly reduce summer precipitation in places such as India and northern China. Many experts advocated research because of its potential benefits but also recognized its risks. For example, a country might unilaterally deploy a technology with a transboundary effect. Research advocates emphasized the need for risk management, envisioning a federal research effort that would (1) focus internationally on transparency and cooperation, given transboundary effects; (2) enable the public and national leaders to consider issues before they become crises; and (3) anticipate opportunities and risks. A small number of those we consulted opposed research; they anticipated major technology risks or limited future climate change. Based on GAO's survey, a majority of U.S. adults are not familiar with climate engineering. When given information on the technologies, they tend to be open to research but concerned about safety.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wholeheartedly agree with Matt Andrews

If only all development organizations were required to provide background stories like these for the innovations they so easily reproduce everywhere. One wonders if ministers of finance in French speaking African countries would so willingly agree to Medium Term Expenditure Framework reforms if they knew where these ideas came from (select advanced Anglophone countries like Australia), what kind of process MTEFs emerged from in these settings, what kind of political context they demand, what capacities they require etc. Ditto for just about every good, better or best practice one can think of. We need more of what ISS is providing: materials to help theorize what makes a best or innovative practice best or innovative and to assist us in thinking about whether these practices fit into new contexts...or what will be required to facilitate the fit. Visit their web site at

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Irish Fiscal Advisory Council

The government announced the establishment of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) on July 7, 2011. The IFAC is mandated to provide an assessment of:
(i) the soundness of official macro-fiscal forecasts;
(ii) the appropriateness of the fiscal stance (including the government’s stated medium-term budgetary objective); and
(iii) the consistency between budgetary plans and fiscal rules (the latter are to be specified in a Fiscal Responsibility Bill by year-end).

The IFAC will submit, at least three times a year, written reports to the Minister for Finance, which will automatically be communicated to the Oireachtas within 24 hours. This effectively means that the IFAC’s reports are published with the Minister having advance notice of their content. There are no restrictions, otherwise, on the Council’s communication with the public.

The IFAC comprises five members, appointed by the Minister for Finance for initial tenures of two to four years. The members will serve in a voluntary capacity, assisted by a small secretariat including full-time economist staff. The Council has been allocated initial funding for the remainder of 2011.

Among the range of fiscal councils in Europe, the IFAC appears most similar to the Swedish Fiscal Policy Council, both in terms of mandate and funding. For instance, the IFAC is charged with assessing, rather than producing, the official macro-fiscal forecasts, which explains its relatively modest resources compared with say, the U.K.’s Office for Budget Responsibility
-Ireland: Third Review Under the Extended Arrangement - Staff Report

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A mathematician on Capital Budgeting

Priority-setting and capital budgeting. Allocating a budget often involves the comparisons of diverse projects whose benefits are difficult to directly estimate and then compare. Organizations also often confuse budget items defined by accounting conditions with actionable projects. A good budgeting process is built by creating useful "decision units," robust measurement criteria and a group process for obtaining inputs and finally ranking projects. Such budgeting processes are equally useful in private corporations and governmental organizations. I have developed such ranking processes for Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, ChevronTexaco. Included in the projects are rankings to allocate yearly budgets for contaminated site cleanups, repair priorities for oil pipelines and capital project rankings for electric utilities.

From John Kadvany

Risk: A Very Short Introduction

Table of Contents
1. Risk decisions
2. Defining risks
3. Analyzing risks
4. Risk perceptions
5. Risk communication
6. Reconciling risks
7. Risk, culture and society
Authors: Baruch Fischhoff and John Kadvany

Friday, September 2, 2011

Artists sentenced by Tax Authorities

Norwegian officials have sentenced the painter Odd Nerdrum to two years in prison on charges that he evaded paying the full amount of taxes on $2.6 million that he made selling artwork between 1998 and 2002.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mauritius PEFA update

Mauritius appears to have done an update of its PEFA;

Mauritius continues to perform well against the PEFA benchmarks. The scores show progress compared to the 2007 PEFA assessment, with 27 out of the 31 reported ratings higher or equal to those obtained in 2007...

Comprehensiveness and transparency have improved since the last PEFA
. The budget classification system adopted for the 2008-09 budget, which incorporates a program budget approach for the first time, is based on the IMF Government Finance Statistics Manual (GFSM) 2001. Budget documentation is relatively comprehensive, meeting seven out of nine of the required benchmarks. However, the analysis and discussion of macro-fiscal projections and fiscal outputs are limited, and transactions between the central government and extra-budgetary units are not fully reported

The monitoring of fiscal risks has been progressively strengthened over the
reporting period, though gaps still remain
. Monitoring and reporting of fiscal risks is not always systematic and coverage remains incomplete―financial institutions and extra-budgetary units are not monitored. Budget integrity is in general sound, with some remaining issues in the monitoring and publication of contract awards and the tracking of flows of funds to primary service delivery units.

A clear annual budget calendar exists and is largely adhered to. The budget
circular provides the guidance necessary for line ministries to prepare a complete and detailed budget submission. However, strategic planning capacity in government remains limited and the links between macroeconomic projections, fiscal strategy, ministry-level strategic plans, and the budget process require strengthening. In particular, insufficient time is available at the early stages of the budget process for discussions between line ministries and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) to determine strategic priorities within the fiscal framework. This is particularly apparent on the capital side of the budget, where significant capacity constraints result in substantial underspending.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Quote of the Day

Steven VanRoekel is the new CIO.

He brought a .com mentality to the FCC, including a perspective that “everything should be an API” that caught some tech observers’ eye. He worked with an innovative new media team that established a voice for social media for the @FCC on social media where that had been none and a livestream that automatically detected what device you’d used to access it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy Birthday GAO

Accountability Is Their Middle Name

Some recent reports from GAO:
Economic Development: Efficiency and Effectiveness of Fragmented Programs Are Unclear

Climate Change Adaptation: Aligning Funding with Strategic Priorities

Financial Education and Counseling Pilot Program

Information Sharing Environment: Better Road Map Needed to Guide Implementation and Investments

Pakistan Assistance: Relatively Little of the $3 Billion in Requested Assistance Is Subject to State's Certification of Pakistan's Progress on Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Issues

Cost and Legal Authority for Selected Financial Literacy Programs and Activities

The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Information on the Rate of Sexual Violence in War-Torn Eastern DRC and Adjoining Countries

Child Fatalities from Maltreatment: National Data Could Be Strengthened

NASA Needs to Better Assess Contract Termination Liability Risks and Ensure Consistency in Its Practices

Child Maltreatment: Strengthening National Data on Child Fatalities Could Aid in Prevention

Combating Terrorism: Additional Steps Needed to Enhance Foreign Partners' Capacity to Prevent Terrorist Travel

Antibiotic Resistance: Data Gaps Will Remain Despite HHS Taking Steps to Improve Monitoring

Influenza Pandemic: Lessons from the H1N1 Pandemic Should Be Incorporated into Future Planning

American Samoa and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Employment, Earnings, and Status of Key Industries Since Minimum Wage Increases Began

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dashboards are only tools: effectiveness depends on their use

A new report for the IBM Center by Dr. Sukumar Ganapati, “Using Dashboards in Government” provides a snapshot into the internal and external uses of dashboards as ways of monitoring performance and providing accountability and transparency in large organizations. Ganapati says: “Dashboards summarize key performance metrics of organzations. They typically integrate data from different sources and display performance measures through informative graphics. The visualization allows readers to understand complex data in less time than it would take to read similar material ocated in the text of a full report.

He says there are different types of dashboards: operational (for monitoring in real time such as call centers or air traffic control); tactical (for analysis and benchmarking such as welfare caseload processing); and strategic (such as balanced scorecards of agency performance).

Source: Using Dashboards in Government

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Public Finance and Society

“… public finances are one of the best starting points for an investigation of society. The spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structure, the deeds its policy may prepare — and this and more is written in its fiscal history.” He cites Goldscheid. 1917. Staatsozialismus order Staatskapitalismus. “the budget is the skeleton of the state stripped of all misleading ideologies.”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Singapore Way

Source:McKinsey report: How the world's best performing school systems come out on top

If Singapore has one thing to teach America, it is about taking governing seriously, relentlessly asking: What world are we living in and how do we adapt to thrive. “We’re like someone living in a hut without any insulation,” explained Tan Kong Yam, an economist. “We feel every change in the wind or the temperature and have to adapt. You Americans are still living in a brick house with central heating and don’t have to be so responsive.” And we have not been

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Improving Government Performance- You do whatever it takes

When it comes to failing schools, Sir Michael expresses impatience. When a public school is failing — not just going through a rough patch, but also systematically failing to educate its students — he says there is only one question the authorities should consider: “How do I get these children a good education as fast as possible?

“Once you have the answer to that question, you just do it,” he said. “If it’s close the school, you close it and move the children into a better one. If there are no better schools nearby, close it and replace it with another on the same site. But you do whatever it takes.”
-Imported From Britain: Ideas to Improve Schools

Education Reform Lessons from England

'Deliverology' is the way forward, says Barber

US Education Delivery Unit

Tony Blair on Deliverology

Blair talks about the Delivery Unit as one of his successes in his memoir and gives credit to Sir Machael Barber.

'It was relatively a small organizatiion, staffed by civil servants but also outsiders from McKinsey, Bain and other private sector companies, whose job was to track the delivery of key government priorities. It would focus like a laser on an issue, draw up a plan to resolve it working with the department concerned, and then performance-manage it to a solution. It would get first-class data which it would use for stocktakes that I took personally with the minister, his key staff and mine, every month or so. The unit would present a progress report and any necessary action would be authorised....

We also created the Strategy Unit, to look ahead at the way policy would devlop, the fresh challenges and new ideas to meet them. That also was higly successful. It allowed us to take a medium- and even long-term view of certain issues that were looming but not imminent. Whereas the Policy Unit handled the day-to-day and focused on managing the departments to produce the policies and their implementation that derived from the manifesto or the departmental plans, the Strategy Unit was trying to trying to construct the next policy platform...

In summary, extra money plus system change delivered results...'

Imported From Britain: Ideas to Improve Schools

“What have all the great school systems of the world got in common?” he said, ticking off four systems that he said deserved to be called great, in Finland, Singapore, South Korea and Alberta, Canada. “Four systems, three continents — what do they have in common?

“They all select their teachers from the top third of their college graduates, whereas the U.S. selects its teachers from the bottom third of graduates. This is one of the big challenges for the U.S. education system: What are you going to do over the next 15 to 20 years to recruit ever better people into teaching?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Social Impact Bonds or PPP Reinvented?

David Cameron’s Conservative government in Britain is already testing it, at a prison 75 miles north of London. The Bloomberg administration in New York is also considering the idea, as is the State of Massachusetts. Perhaps most notably, President Obama next week will propose setting aside $100 million for seven such pilot programs, according to an administration official.

The idea goes by one of two names: pay for success bonds or social impact bonds. Either way, nonprofit groups like foundations pay the initial money for a new program and also oversee it, with government approval. The government will reimburse them several years later, possibly with a bonus — but only if agreed-upon benchmarks show that the program is working.
-For Federal Programs, a Taste of Market Discipline

A Bond to Save Lives

What Are Social-Impact Bonds?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

PFM Lesson of the Day

Albert van Zyl reviews some reviews of PFM systems;
So for example, Matt Andrews (2010), in his study of 31 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa found that “they have alarmingly similar reforms in place” (page 44), “an MTEF was implemented in 28 countries, programme budgeting in 25 and an IFMIS in 20”. As a result of these findings, Andrews calls for “less similarity of reforms and more context appropriateness”, as one of his three main recommendations.

Weekend reading- Mathew Andrews paper mentioned above.
Budgets are made better than they are executed

Obama's Management Agenda checklist

A quick list of Obama's planned management reforms;
  1. The promise to create a “chief performance officer” reporting to him
  2. The promise to replace the Program Assessment Review Tool (PART) with a new Performance Improvement and Analysis Framework
  3. The appointment of Jeff Zients as the chief performance officer, and as deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget
  4. A commitment to a governmentwide performance portal
  5. The creation of “high-priority performance goals”
  6. A commitment to program evaluation
  7. The outlining of six “performance strategies” for the Administration’s Accountable Government Initiative.


Better Know Your Baselines

Why baselines are important;

Baselines are essentially the status quo, the starting point for whatever fiscal discussion you're having, and help show the change certain policies might have on the federal budget. However, as TaxVox, the Tax Policy Center's blog, pointed out in a great post last year, not everyone uses the same baseline, and some baselines are better than others

Monday, February 7, 2011

Does India need a PAIS?

Better and more effective Planning of government expenditures has many elements. Some of the elements of planning that need improvement have been discussed in this note. These include clearer definition of program outputs and outcomes and detailed operational plans for achieving these goals. With the availability of new technology, government management information systems and public accountability can be vastly improved. The paper proposes a Public accountability information system (PAIS), with a web enabled public information system and a smart card recording all the benefits that the poor are entitled to receive through government programs. This would empower the poor, particularly in rural and remote areas, by converting entitlements into a financial right – a virtual credit/debit card based on government funds. If implemented sincerely, with inevitable modifications and adaptations arising out of implementation experience, this can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government expenditure over the next five years.
-PLANNING FOR RESULTS: The Public Accountability Information System
Working Paper No. 1/2007-PC, India National Planning Council Working Paper

Expenditure Tracking in India

The connection between release of funds by the Central Government and actual expenditures for physical inputs by the implementing agencies is
currently, very obscure

We highly recommend the Report of the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects, the chapter on Expenditure Information Network.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Recent Reports - Indian Government

Report of the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects

Public Debt Management

Report of the Working Group on Foreign Investment in India

Outcome Budget

India's Independent Evaluation Office

The Union Cabinet today approved the establishment of an Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) to undertake impartial and objective assessment of the various public programmes and improve the effectiveness of public interventions. This is in pursuance of the Presidential address to the Joint Session of both Houses of Parliament in June, 2009 to establish an Independent Evaluation Office at an arms' distance from the Government to assess the outcomes and impact of the major flagship programmes of the Government of India.

The IEO will be an independent office attached to the Planning Commission under a Governing Board chaired by the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. It will be funded by the Planning Commission and will have, as its head, a full-time Director General (DG) in the rank and status of Member, Planning Commission. It will have full functional autonomy to discharge its functions. The IEO will also advise the Planning Commission and the implementing agencies in developing appropriate management systems consistent with the evaluation objectives.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Job Opportunities

RA job at BIS- deadline 24th January. Qualification required- Master's in economics, econometrics or statistics.

Jobs at Institute of International Finance

Development NGOs of the Week- DAI

DAI’s mission is to make a lasting difference in the world by helping developing nations become more prosperous, fairer and more just, cleaner, safer, healthier, more stable, more efficient, and better governed.

DAI Washington traces its origins to 1970, when three graduates of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University combined their savings, aspirations, and career goals to establish a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., focusing on market-based approaches to economic development. DAI Washington's founders were bold and persistent. They named the company “Development Alternatives, Inc.”—now known simply as DAI—to emphasize their commitment to innovation and new ways of solving problems.

See more job opportunites at DAI