IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Why It Worked: Critical Success Factors of a Financial Reform Project in Africa

  • Peterson, Stephen

    (Harvard University)

Registered author(s):

    Little is written about the critical success factors that make or break a project implementing a public financial management reform in Africa. Based on the twelve year experience of Harvard's DSA project which transformed Ethiopia's financial management in the third best on the continent, this paper presents the key factors of the projects success: task, context, patrons, roles, staff and decisions. The task was focused from the start on the basics of financial control (budget and accounts and their budget classification, chart of accounts and financial calendar) and the development of an often forgotten end state in PFM reform--the self-accounting unit. Three features of context supported the project: political (close ties between the US and Ethiopia government established during the civil war), task environment (a hard budget constraint) and, serendipity (a war that ensure one set of cooks in the kitchen and removed the inevitable critique by foreign aid agencies, and the government policy of second stage devolution--which made the focal point of district level decentralization). The third CSF, the projects patrons, stayed the course, met stated commitments and did not meddle. The project performed four roles (go-between in the vacuum of decentralization), decider (making the key decisions on pilots), first responder (providing PFM innovations not specified in the terms of reference) and perhaps most important, the furniture (an object that could be kicked and blamed). The project was able to assemble the array of essential staff: all rounders, managers, technicians, networkers and a closer.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number 11-019.

    in new window

    Date of creation: Mar 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:11-019
    Contact details of provider: Postal: 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
    Fax: 617-496-2554
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:11-019. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.