Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Public Sector Reform: What Works and Why?

Webcast of a recent discussion on IEG report on public sector reform;

On July 17th, 2008, the World Bank presented a panel discussion on a new report from the IEG entitled Public Sector Reform, What Works and Why? The event was moderated by Sanjay Vani, Lead Financial Management Specialist (OPCFM), who introduced the report and related its importance. Steven Webb, and Lead Author of the IEG report, addressed the group by explaining its objectives and his hopes that the report would stimulate discussion and new ideas for the future. Additionally, Webb stated that while they could not cover every aspect of the public sector, they did focus on four key areas including: public expenditure and financial management, civil service and administration, tax administration, corruption and transparency.

Clay Wescott, Author of the Public Finance Management background paper, then addressed public expenditure and financial management issues within the report. Wescott divided the report into two sections, the first being key debates between scholars and practitioners on public financial management and procurement. Second, he discussed the World Bank’s support to procurement and financial management. Finally, Wescott addressed issues he felt the paper failed to acknowledge, but were important for the future. Webb then spoke again, speaking to Wescott’s comments and additional issues on how to evaluate and understand progress within public sector reform.

James Brumbry, Lead Public Sector Specialist (PRMPS), covered four specific areas within the report. His comments touched on comparisons between public financial management and civil service reform, the operation of partnerships between the bank and countries and sequencing and transitions, the gap between promise and performance. Next, Devesh Mishra, Regional Procurement Manager (ECA), cited examples, challenges, and solutions in his discussion on procurement. Finally, Vani, addressed the reports findings, his concerns and then opened up the floor for discussion. Questions and discussion centered on sub-service delivery, report recommendations and procurement options including outsourcing.

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