IMPLEMENTING FINANCIAL AND ACCOUNTING SYSTEMS FOR GOVERNMENT

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IMPLEMENTING FINANCIAL AND ACCOUNTING SYSTEMS FOR GOVERNMENT CHRISTIAN T SOTTIE THE CONTROLLER AND ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL GHANA INTRODUCTION • Today, strong financial management in the public sector is not a luxury but a necessity • We are in an era of increased demand for accountability and transparency • the "stakeholders" of the public sector are demanding more effective and efficient use of public resources introduction • Accountability – the ability of public officials (politicians and technocrats) – to answer for their actions and inactions and – to show evidence that public funds were utilised for public Interest • Transparency- ready access to reliable, comprehensive, timely, understandable, and internationally comparable information on government activities • Predictability – procedures laid down by laws, regulations and administrative instructions that are: – clear and known in advance (documented), – uniformly and effectively enforced • Participation decentralization and allowing participation in decision making all levels of govt through representation, voting etc Definition • • • • • Integrated Financial mgt System (IFMS) aims at improving accountability by enhancing transparency and oversight in govt operations IFMS applies high technology to enhance financial mgt and reduce mismanagement and corruption It is widely acknowledged that fully functioning IFMS contributes to improved governance, by providing real-time financial information that financial and other managers can utilize to effectively administer programs, develop budgets and manage resources During the past decade, IFMS has been implemented in Africa with varying degrees of success Where IFMS has been introduced successfully, it has increased public sector legitimacy, produced timely and efficient accounting of public resources, increased government accountability and transparency and made it possible to audit public accounts and strengthen internal control in government units DEFINITION Public Financial Management System (PFMS) is designed to  support all financial operations,  collect accurate, timely, complete, reliable and consistent information on all public financial events,  provide adequate management reporting,  support government-wide and agency policy decisions,  produce auditable financial statements INTEGRATED PUBLIC FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT Core Treasury System includes the following components:  Budget Execution and Monitoring Accounting (general ledger, management of payments and receipts) Cash Management Financial Reporting Purchasing / Commitment Asset / Inventory Management  Operational support for Spending Units      Other Public Financial Management System components:  Macro Economic Forecasting Budget Preparation and Approval Debt and Aid Management HR Management /Payroll Calculations Support for Financial Control and Auditing Web publishing  Financial Management Information System      The combination of above components is referred to as integrated PFMS Cycle for Public Fin Mgt Policy Formulation and Review Budget Preparation Budget Execution Audit and Evaluation Budget Authorizations Implementation Commitment of Funds Budget Review & Accounting Purchasing Debt and Aid Mgt Payments and Receipts Mgt Cash Mgt Asset / Inventory Mgt Payroll/ HR Mgt implementation of information systems  Put up a system implementation team (user driven project)  Secure network infrastructure (countrywide if necessary)  Develop application software based on user requirement  Choose servers , data storage and backup units depending on software  System and network management tools  Technical maintenance and support systems  System safety / security and business sustainability/continuity solutions  Ensure user involvement in system design, configuration, testing and accepatance Important points to note  Development of the core treasury system is an important milestone for the implementation of a countrywide Public Financial Management System (PFMS), which enables integration and exchange of information available in various systems (e.g IRS, CEPS, Central Bank) developed by different agencies  The Financial Management Information System (FMIS), as the main decision support and monitoring system for public finance, is based on centrally available information gathered from all important components of the PFMS  Development time for a fully functional treasury system in some transition economies and developing countries varies between to years Large scale implementations of the treasury systems may take even longer Eg Ghana started since 1996  Total cost of ownership of treasury system implementation depends on a number of factors, such as institutional capacity, scope, desired functionality, number of users and implementation method Lessons learnt Development of modern integrated PFMS according to the best practices is a complex task, which should be designed as a separate project Implementation of such wide spread changes would require:  Government commitment and management support at the highest levels to ensure that the change process is completed smoothly  Inter-agency coordination and user involvement in system design  Building institutional capacity and technical skills starting from the preparation phase  Development of project management and technical support units within the Treasury for implementation and sustainability of new systems  Donors support usually turns to dictate the passé beyond the capability of the user or set standards that are not achievable  Dream big but start small The “big bang “ approach may take forever to complete Eg Ghana started with 76 sites and 10 years later, the pilot sites were reduced to sites  Incentive schemes should accompany the implementation since such project demand more efforts and commitment than the regular job requirement of the public servant
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