The government finance renaissance

Conversations across Europe

Public financial management has entered a new phase. Fiscal consolidation measures, political imperatives and unprecedented public interest have put a new level of pressure on the people managing taxpayers’ money.

Our interviews not only show how government finance leaders have coped with that pressure, but how it has driven improvement and fuelled aspirations for the future.

So while the financial crisis may have caused a multitude of damaging effects, it also triggered a period of intense reflection, development and innovation in public financial management – in other words, a renaissance.

The report identifies five shared themes that have arisen from our conversations with government finance leaders:

  • The global financial crisis triggered a renaissance in public financial management,
  • Governments are focused on tax compliance rather than innovation,
  • Governments are struggling to exploit their own information,
  • Public sector employment restrictions are limiting the talent pool, and
  • Transparency about public spending is not enough to engage the public.

Based on these shared themes, our report proposes that Europe's governments need to continue the momentum of change so that public financial management is repositioned as a strategic function of the state, central to policy and decision making.

Many governments already recognise that they need to improve the quality of their information and the technology they use to manage it.

However, our conversations point to four additional actions that Europe's governments should explore in order to maintain momentum and continue this renaissance in public financial management:

  • Broaden the way that experience is shared across borders
  • Rethink government's approach to public finance recruitment and retention
  • Develop new ways to inform and communicate about government's finances
  • Invest in leadership within government finance communities 
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