The ability of the state to tax reasonably and spend effectively is at the heart of statehood itself. And reforms to improve public financial management have been high on the agenda in fragile and conflict-affected states for both governments and donors alike. Yet evidence on what works and what doesn’t is limited.
Based on a major piece of joint ODI-World Bank research, this Briefing Paper looks at public financial management reforms across eight different fragile states over a ten year period. The research finds that substantial progress in reforming public financial management is possible, even in countries with very low income and capacity. Efforts to strengthen budget execution have tended to outperform work on other dimensions of public financial management. But we still need to know more about how public financial management reforms can contribute to better service delivery and state-building.