The Productivity Council is gearing up to host its annual series of workshops on Strategic Planning and Performance-based Budgeting (PBB) for the public sector.

Five two-day seminars will be held from the end of this month to October and officers responsible for, or who work with, programmes or projects may register with The Productivity Council to attend the sessions.

Senior Economist at The Council and facilitator of the training, Olivia Smith, said that PBB or Accountability Budgeting is one of the areas of Performance Management which applies to government. She explained that Performance-based Budgeting required those who were responsible for spending government funds to account for what programmes the money was spent on, identifying developmental results which were achieved through the spending or what level of social capital was preserved because of it.

Ms. Smith pointed out that people usually judged public sector performance by tangible or visible social and economic-ameliorating results, and not by intentions or promises. According to her, governments in both the developed and developing world had increasingly found themselves struggling with spending and supply-side constraints, and needing to develop more creative programmes designed to achieve more from a non-expanding pool of funds.

???No taxpayer is pleased at the prospect of having to pay more taxes, and no government wants to place excessive fiscal burdens on its population. So, the choices are to expand the pool of funds to spend or demonstrate efficiency in how public dollars are spent,??? she stated.

She expressed the view that performance budgeting in the public sector must be predominantly concerned with achieving desired outputs, social and economic outcomes, and more importantly, societal impact. ???For this to be successful,??? she continued, ???close attention needs to be paid to the activities employed to achieve these objectives. So, although we are measuring activities and costs, the processes which make up these activities must be objective-driven, cost-effective, efficient, and consumer-friendly.

???This carefully crafted system must begin with a purposefully constructed Strategic Plan which outlines the broad goals and performance targets. PBB, therefore, does not exist in a vacuum. It forms part of the chain of strategic management of the organisation. There should be a Strategic Plan in place, out of which strategic programmes and activities, which are cost-estimated, are developed to propel the organisation towards its goals and objectives.???

Ms. Smith added that key performance indicators would then be developed as a tool to help the organisation measure or determine whether it was achieving its stated objectives.

She underscored the benefits of Performance-based Budgeting, stating that government programmes would be implemented, only in so far as they would complement the strategic goals of the organisation, and were measurable, actionable, cost-effective, and results-driven.

???The sustainability of existing programmes or the introduction of connected or independent ones depends, not only on Government???s desired strategic focus, but also on the measure of success achieved in the past, and the level of impact that has been recorded. The public is often quick to plead for greater transparency and accountability in the way taxpayers??? money is spent and this, I believe, is one way of ensuring that a clear paper-trail of expenditure and outcomes is documented,??? Ms. Smith stressed.??

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