Accountable and effective institutions

Public Sector Governance and Institutions

 

A holistic approach

Open, effective and accountable institutions can make real differences for citizens, economies and societies. Without effective and inclusive public sector governance and institutions, development finance (broadly defined) may be wasted and the prospects for economic transformation compromised.

Achieving more effective and inclusive public sector governance and institutions implies supporting the capacity of state institutions as well as bolstering their responsiveness to citizen’s needs. Public sector governance is as much about strengthening core state functions (such as public finance and public procurement) as it is about ensuring that all citizens – including women and children, older persons, those with disabilities, and marginalised groups – all enjoy a full range of civil and human rights. Strengthening institutions means taking a holistic approach, and working not only with governments, but also with parliaments, independent institutions (such as Supreme Audit Institutions), the media, civil society, and the private sector.

Supporting more effective and inclusive public sector institutions

The OECD brings together public sector governance experts from developing as well as developed countries to shape international policy debates on these issues and to support innovation at country level. The work undertaken under the auspices of the OECD-DAC provides countries and organisations with a forum to exchange experiences and lessons, identify and disseminate what has worked where and why, and provide methodologies for peer learning.  This work also helps build partnerships and identify and document country-level public sector reform innovations.

Strengthening and using core public sector systems

Strong core public sector institutions and systems, such as public financial management and procurement systems, are essential for fiscal health and sustainability, as well as for the effective delivery of public services. Against this background, the OECD’s Governance team supports current efforts to strengthen and use those core public sector systems, in the framework of development assistance.

  • Our work on public financial management (PFM) builds on the international community’s efforts to strengthen developing countries’ capacities to better manage their public finances.  It looks for ways to more effectively support country efforts and needs: in particular by bringing together development partners and country authorities to foster good practices in implementing PFM reforms; harmonise the measurement of PFM performance; share knowledge and experiences among development partners and countries on using country PFM systems; and strengthen accountability of related institutions such as supreme audit institutions. Our work in this area includes guidance on strengthening PFM systems and assessing the quality of those systems.

  • Our team also supports work to strengthen and develop good procurement practices. In particular, tools have been developed to help countries identify weaknesses in their procurement systems and create action plans to address these weaknesses using capacity development strategies. Partner countries are making use of these tools and development partners support this work in accordance with international commitments. The OECD-DAC Methodology for the Assessment of Procurement Systems (MAPS) has been used by over 60 countries.

Increasing the use of country systems

The Busan partnership agreement endorsed in 2011, committed partner countries to strengthen their country systems to the maximum extent possible; and committed donor countries to use these systems as the default option. Our work includes developing guidance to help donors and partner countries in developing approaches on the use of country systems in different country contexts (middle income, low income, fragile states); for different components (planning, budgeting, accounting, auditing); and for different aid modalities (budget support, project support). This includes setting out recommendations on how specific systems can be used (such as public financial management) to ensure development practice contributes to strengthening partner country systems in a sustainable manner.

Fostering more effective institutions

This approach applies a holistic lens to supporting public sector reforms, linking policy areas and actors that have previously been separated, such as revenue and budget execution, and relating core strategic functions of core public sector institutions with broader accountability factors. It also takes into account the 'soft dimensions’ of public sector reforms, such as change management issues.

  • The OECD supports the efforts of the multi-stakeholder group Effective Institutions Platform that look for ways to support public sector reform efforts. It facilitates the access to knowledge and experiences on public sector reform, including but not limited to the technical aspects. It also helps track and assess the ways in which public sector institutions improve the delivery of public services. Our work in this area includes the support of Learning Alliances on Public Sector Reform

  • The Governance team also supports the analysis of the role of accountability institutions and policies, considering a broad array of stakeholders such as Parliament, Supreme Audit Institutions, civil society and others (private sector, media, etc.). The analysis of both vertical and horizontal accountability systems aims to help partner countries and development partners identify innovative approaches towards strengthening accountability.

Related links

Strengthening and use of country systems: www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/countrysystems.htm

Public Financial Management: www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/pfm.htm

Procurement: www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/procurement.htm

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