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Independent Evaluation on Public Financial Management

Has SECO’s official development assistance contributed to successful reforms in public financial management?

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Judith Zimmermann

OPM evaluated SECO’s Macroeconomic Support section in Public Financial Management (PFM) for the period of 2017-2020 – focusing on SECO’s support to PFM system reform in partner countries by strengthening institutional capacities to enable fiscal discipline, strategic allocation of public funds, and efficient service delivery. A sub-set of 20 PFM projects in eleven countries as well as SECO’s contribution to global programmes such as Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) and the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions’ (INTOSAI) Development Initiative were sampled as the focus of this evaluation. The evaluation found SECO’s evidence-based approach, its emphasis on adaptive management and flexibility, together with a thorough analysis of the political and economic context used in project preparation and design enabled a high level of stakeholder and beneficiary ownership and commitment. But that there is space for increased inclusion of transversal themes – such as climate change, gender, anti-corruption, digitalization – in PFM system reform project design, where local opportunities and partner strategies permit’

The challenge

The independent evaluation undertaken by OPM provides

  1. an instrument of accountability, addressed to the Swiss Parliament for the planning of the next dispatch and the interested broader public and
  2. an important opportunity for SECO’s institutional learning.

Our Approach

The evaluation will examine 20 projects in the PFM thematic area on a desk-review basis, complemented by interviews with SECO staff in their HQ in Berne as well as with SECO staff on the ground. To prepare the desk reports a detailed matrix was created to answer all the evaluation's questions following 13 accountability and 4 learning questions.

The approach includes awareness of procedures and activities required for assessment of

  • projects for which SECO is the sole donor and mandates implementing agency (by tender), and nominated as bilateral projects,
  • projects implemented by other development partners with contributions from SECO, the so-called multi-bi projects, and
  • SECO contributions to global initiatives, nominated as global projects.

The approach assessed the portfolio project-by-project with due consideration to different implementation modalities and partners. Furthermore, four projects in two countries (Albania and Peru) were looked at in-depth, with field visits and extensive interviews with relevant stakeholders.

Outcomes and wider impact

The evaluation is providing SECO with insights in learnings across the PFM activity landscape and with recommendations for further programming or project tweaking for ongoing projects.