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The capabilities of finance ministries

The findings from this report and from the nascent literature on finance ministries could form the basis of a practical approach to strengthening the capabilities of finance ministries. Two immediate changes appear particularly worth exploring: First, a reform agenda, whether it is part of a broader PFM reform plan or specifically tailored towards the finance ministry, should not be narrowly focused on PFM but should draw upon public management research, as well as the broader evidence on government institutions. This might start to fill the ‘missing middle‘ in the current analytical toolkit.

Second, the analyses presented in this report could provide the basis of a capability bottlenecks assessment. A combination of (1) fiscal institutions, (2) central finance functions, (3) organisational structures, and (4) tenure and civil service features could be used to identify the most critical constraints on the ability of a ministry to perform its specific tasks.

There is still the need for a dose of realism because the evidence suggests that finance ministries cannot wholly escape the institutional environment that sustains and constrains them. Nonetheless, they could still position themselves better to make the most of this institutional context.

The capabilities of finance ministries. Executive summary

Overseas Development Institute (ODI); Krause, P., Hadley, S., Mustapha, S. and Welham, B., June 2016.