Crown Agents recently conducted a series of lesson learning workshops during the final weeks of the Nepal Public Financial Management and Accountability Programme (PFMA) we have delivered for the Department for International Development. We were appointed to the role of service provider in consortium for this programme in May 2013.
The aim of the component of the programme delivered by the PFMA Consortium, recently rated A+ in DFID’s 2016 Annual Review, was to provide technical assistance with the objective of achieving enhanced efficiency, transparency, and integrity of public finances at the national, sectoral and sub-national level.
The project came to a close on 31st March 2017 and PFMA coordinated a series of lesson learning workshops from 28th Feb 2017 to 2nd March 2017. The aim of the workshops was to inform future programme design and management through capturing transferable lessons from how PFMA operated and what it achieved. Separate lesson learning workshops were conducted with the PFMA project team, DFID advisers (both sectoral and governance) and the Government of Nepal.
The workshops provided an opportunity to gain insight into the perceptions of the work done by the PFMA project. The project was considered by the team, DFID and the Government of Nepal to have made positive contributions to the national management of public finances, particularly through the institutionalisation of FMIPs, acting as an agreed plan for reform, and demand led piece of analysis by the government. There have been notable improvements in transparency and coordination, as well as government engagement with and ownership of changes.
Similar points were raised by each of the three groups involved, with key lessons learnt including: the fact that reform is a slow process and small wins should be valued; the importance of flexible and adaptive programming; the need for an integrated rather than fragmented system; the benefits of diversity in connections and skills in the team to achieve best results; the importance of building trust and understanding of requirements through face to face contact; the need for government to lead (and be supported to lead) the reform process, with the project being as demand driven as possible; the benefits of fostering collaboration between ministries, including sharing information where relevant; and the importance of capacity building to ensure the long term sustainability of the work done.
We are hopeful the lessons learnt from the PFMA team, DFID advisers and representatives from the Government of Nepal will inform any follow-on project to PFMA, as well as other comparable public financial management projects.