Careers Tender

Information systems in Public Financial Management

Terms of Reference

Project Objective
Information systems in public financial management Identify consultants to develop (i) a keynote paper and (ii) four case studies that will inform the focus of and capture the learnings from a peer-learning event on information systems in PFM in April 2020.

1. Information systems in public financial management: an overview

The Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) works with African finance and budget ministries in developing and implementing reform initiatives that lead to more functional Public Financial Management (PFM) systems. We facilitate peer learning and exchange and utilise problem-driven and iterative approaches to solving context-specific challenges.

Functional PFM systems depend critically on accurate and timely information sharing, which facilitate informed decision-making, smooth budget execution, integrated service delivery, and mitigate against wasteful expenditure. Over the past three decades, provision of information within the public sector has been revolutionised by information and communication technology, particularly, Financial Management Information Systems (FMIS). FMISs, “automated solutions that enable governments to plan, execute and monitor the budget, by assisting in the prioritisation, execution and reporting of expenditures… and revenues” (Dener, Watkins, and Dorotinsky 2011), now form an integral part of public financial management.

Despite the introduction of FMIS across African countries and huge sums of money spent on IT-related reforms since the 1980s, information imperfections persist throughout government agencies. While these imperfections reflect administrative, political and organisational weaknesses that pre-date the introduction of FMISs, it is also possible to identify numerous challenges that have arisen because of the introduction of FMISs.

An additional layer of complexity and implementation challenge can be attributed to the introduction of Integrated FMIS (IFMIS), which links the core financial management system functions (e.g. budget execution, accounting, treasury and cash management) with auxiliary systems (e.g. payroll, procurement, debt management) using a centralised database (or a series of interlinked databases) to record and report all transactions.

While some African countries are still in the early stages of automating their financial management systems, most have had some version of a FMIS for decades. However, the cost and implementation challenges associated with FMIS reforms have been substantial, leading to disappointing results in many cases. Countries are therefore looking to improve the functionality, coverage, design and integration of their systems.

2. Objective and design of the policy dialogue

CABRI’s policy dialogues comprise of the following:

    • Research and development of a keynote paper and three to four case-studies that provide critical lessons of policy implementation in selected countries and direct the focus of the peer-exchange event.
    • A core peer-exchange event facilitating intra and inter-country learning of relevant stakeholders from 12-14 African countries.
    • Follow-on training or review workshop tailored to address specific needs identified at the peer-exchange event with 8-10 countries.
    • Possible demand-led “twinning” programme of two countries to deepen the peer-learning and exchange.
    • Regular and timely follow-up with participants to assess the application of knowledge and skills acquired at the policy dialogue.

The policy dialogue on information systems in PFM will take place on 20-21 April 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya. It will provide a platform for practitioners to share and learn from first-hand experiences of officials in other ministries of finance who have conceptualised, implemented and used these systems. It will also provide a platform for officials from the budget and accountant-general’s offices to review country-specific design and implementation challenges, which are often viewed and addressed differently by these two offices.

Through a keynote paper, four case studies and facilitated discussions, the dialogue will provide insight into cross-cutting issues such as: i) capacity and capabilities required for designing and operating a FMIS, ii) donor’s use of countries’ information systems, iii) importance of stakeholder engagement, iv) contracting and contract management, v) role of FMIS in both combatting and facilitating corruption, and v) accessibility and usability of information generated through IT systems.

3. Purpose of the terms of reference

CABRI is looking for consultants to develop a keynote paper and four case studies as part of the policy dialogue on information systems in PFM. If the consultant has expertise and time to develop all the below material, they may apply to develop all or apply to develop only one, two or three case studies and/or the keynote paper.

3.1.1 Keynote paper

3.1.1.1 The state of public financial management information systems in Africa

This keynote paper will provide insight into how and why financial management systems were introduced across African countries and reflect on the problems that countries were trying to address by automating their processes. The keynote will draw on the findings of the case studies and consider cross-cutting issues such as design and implementation challenges, institutional coverage, supplier management, the role of financial management systems in improving transparency, and accessibility and usability of information generated through IT systems.

3.1.2 Case studies

3.1.2.1 A cross-country review of IFMIS successes and failures

By providing real-time information on revenue and expenditure, it is claimed that the introduction of an IFMIS will improve operational efficiency, transparency and reduce political discretion and fraud. However, country experience has shown that the practical obstacles to successful implementation of an IFMIS, such as capacity and capability gaps, fraud, lack of political buy-in, and the enormous expense associated with these projects, are often insurmountable.

This case study will provide cross-country evidence of some of the successes and failures that African countries have faced in designing and implementing IFMIS. While some of these challenges and successes may apply to transversal or non-integrated financial management systems, the focus of this case study will be on system integration and may include:

  • insight into the status of IFMIS implementation across a selected group of African countries, including the existing and proposed coverage of the IFMIS (whether the IFMIS covers only core functions or has been integrated fully with auxiliary functions, such as payroll or revenue; whether a centralised data warehouse has been introduced; and what parts of government the IFMIS covers).
  • the advantages and disadvantages of custom-built systems, in-house solutions, and commercial off-the-shelf systems and when each is most appropriate given the existing capabilities and capacity within government, associated cost and maintenance requirements. When considering systems procured from external software providers, such as Oracle or SAP, it will be useful to include local practitioners’ experiences with procurement and system maintenance.
  • pre- and co-conditions that have facilitated greater success with IFMIS implementation, such as willingness to reform, coherence and uniformity across government in terms of reporting and accounting standards.
  • where IFMISs have achieved some of their stated objectives such as improved operational and allocative efficiency, greater accountability and reduced corruption and where they may have contributed negatively to these objectives.

3.1.2.2 Workable transversal systems: the case of South Africa

South Africa is one of a handful of countries that continue to operate transverse information management systems. The transversal system includes all administrative systems required by national and provincial departments, including financial management, human resource management, supply chain management, business intelligence, audit system and the Police Financial Management System.

In 2005, Parliament approved the implementation of an IFMIS in South Africa to replace the transversal systems. Problems associated with the transversal system were stated to include functional duplication; challenges in implementing standards and norms across systems and limited aggregation of data. While some of these are real problems that inhibit service delivery, by and large, South Africa’s public financial management system has been effective, and it is questionable whether the implementation of an IFMIS was the correct solution to the aforementioned problems. Irrespective, South Africa has wasted huge sums of money (in excess of USD 100 million) over a decade on trying to implement an IFMIS.

This case study will review the efficiencies and inefficiencies associated with South Africa’s transverse system, determine whether the implementation of IFMIS has been an appropriate response to its perceived failings, and provide lessons to other countries as to when a transversal system may be most appropriate and cost-effective. It may also prove useful to South African officials as they embark on IFMIS 2, scheduled for roll out in 2021.

3.1.2.3 Extending the institutional coverage of FMISs

Given the difficulties associated with implementing a FMIS at the central level, it is unsurprising that introducing IT systems outside of central government has been fraught with difficulties. These have included limited technical capabilities and capacity, poor internet connectivity, and insufficient understanding of end-user requirements. Including donor funds onto the FMIS has also been slow in most countries (primarily related to non-technological issues).

This case study will consider challenges faced in extending the institutional coverage of FMIS to local governments, spending agencies and donor funds.

3.1.2.4 Basic data skills required to make an information system work

Information systems are often introduced without adequate attention to the basic skills required to input and analyse data. This case study will consider the types of data skills that countries have and need as a complement to their information systems.

4. Scope of work and deliverables

We are seeking consultants to develop the aforementioned keynote paper and case studies. Consultants may apply to complete a minimum of one case study and/or keynote paper. Each consultant will be expected to deliver the following deliverables:

  • Case study or keynote (5000-7000 words)
  • Inputs for core-peer exchange event
  • Presentation at core peer-exchange event in Nairobi on 20-21 April 2020

5. Timelines

The following deadlines will allow us to have the case studies, keynote papers ready for editing, translation, typesetting and printing between 21 March and 15 April 2020.

Task Deadlines
Appointment of consultants 12 February 2020
Preliminary discussions with the CABRI Secretariat 14 February 2020
Proposed structure of case studies 17 February 2020
Proposed structure of keynote paper 22 February 2020
Submission of high-level findings from case studies for programme development and incorporation into keynote paper 28 February 2020
First draft of case studies 6 March 2020
First draft of keynote paper 10 March 2020
Final draft of case studies (following CABRI’s review) 20 March 2020
First draft of presentations based on case studies 28 March 2020
Final drafts of presentations based on case studies 7 April 2020

6. Requirements of the consultant

The consultant will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Postgraduate degree in economics, political science, public administration or related subject;
  • Minimum 3 years’ experience in good financial governance, PFM reforms or public policy;
  • Preferably fluent in English and French;
  • Experience with undertaking both primary and desktop research

7. Contract specifications

7.1 Duration of the assignment

The contract duration will run from the 12 February 2020 – 30 June 2020. Expected numbers of days for each case study and keynote should not exceed 12 working days.

7.2 Terms and conditions

The terms of the contract will follow CABRI’s rules and procedures.

Payments will be made on submission of the (a) first draft of case studies or keynote paper and (b) final case studies or keynote paper.

The consultant will be expected to submit original invoices and payments will be made following prior approval of services to be performed and submission of outputs in line with milestones agreed in the contract. Depending on the timeliness and quality of the deliverables, the CABRI Secretariat reserves the right to limit the scope of or terminate the assignment at any stage.

7.3 Applications

The consultant should indicate his/her interest by submitting a technical and a financial proposal. On the technical side, it should include a CV, highlighting relevant and recent experience and qualifications.

On the financial side, the proposal should present the total budget required for the assignment, with a breakdown between fees and expenses and indicating the number of days for each task. Proposals should be submitted to the CABRI secretariat via e-mail to Danielle Serebro (Danielle.Serebro@cabri-sbo.org)

The deadline for submitting the proposals is 15:00 (GMT+2), Monday 10 February 2020.

If you do not hear back from us after two weeks of close of tender, you may consider your application unsuccessful.

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