Public Sector Centralised Budgeting Management Software
This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)
The Government of Tanzania has implemented a budgeting solution, developed with Isidore, for the collection, analysis and reporting of public revenue and expenses. The budget process is complicated from having diverse streams of revenue and expenses including donor funding, project outcomes, staff and capital works, which must be input by all Ministries and their personnel who are geographically dispersed. The final consolidated results are required in time for Parliament to ratify.
This Centralised Budgeting Software innovation in Tanzania solves the problem of collecting extensive amounts of public financial related data from many different sources in a short time, for the allocation of public funding. Not only is the vast detail required in summary but also the transparency, audit ability and outcome of donor funding and detail of projects undertaken.
The innovation is software which completes the full budget cycle, in conjunction with a refined method, to reduce the time and effort required for this process.
The goals of the Centralised Budgeting Software included being able to provide for the timely collection of budget detail within the time frame specified, training of staff who would be using the software, replacement of the existing software to the same or better standard and the ability to enhance the software in the future.
Those who benefited from the innovation included the Ministry of Finance, who were the main administrators and coordinators of the process and were responsible for the successful completion of the setting of budgets, the personnel in the 90 Ministries who were required to provide their detail within the constraints set by the Ministry of Finance and the country themselves for having a more complete, accurate and efficient process.
The centralised budgeting software has already been identified for the collection of additional information that can be input for use in centralised reporting and analysis to further add to the benefit received and improve the outcomes and transparency of Government. More enhancements will be made in Tanzania as resources are freed from the previous inefficient process, to be able to see what additional value could be added to the normal detail relied upon.
The replication opportunities for this centralised budgeting solution exist in all Developing Countries where the process is not properly matched with suitable software and indeed any public jurisdiction, country or entity where transparency, timeliness, accuracy, efficiency and completeness are required.
We combined an understanding of public sector budgeting with the current and desired budget process being utilised in Tanzania to determine the optimal outcome. Having a very agile method of project discussion, development and quick release allowed refinements to occur within the short time frame.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The Centralised Budgeting Software and process has provided a greater level of detail in a simply defined way, that makes it easy to follow and use.
Isidore has taken a holistic approach to fixing the process, as well as the software, by encompassing many of the related activities involved in the budget process, removing many redundant or over complex activities and focusing on being a value adding solution which is transparent, scalable and configurable, while guiding Government through the ideal methodologies, which Isidore has refined through exposure to other countries.
This project is innovative as it:
1) Provides lives consolidation of data from many sources
2) Follows the trail of donor funding to project detail and outcome
3) Enforces limits to spending
4) Reduces time required by more than half
5) Encourages collaboration
6) Reduces costs of hardware, software and personnel
What is the current status of your innovation?
The Centralised Budgeting Software project in Tanzania was successfully implemented in 2018 and used for the initial collection of budget detail. The initial goal was to provide a replacement for the existing software and process, which was met well above expectations. With more familiarity for the Government and a better understanding of what can be achieved, the project has opened a mechanism to provide the second phase of the project in Tanzania. This will include further capture of "nice to have" information, such as staff and project related details, expanding the scope and capacity of the software to further improve efficiencies.
The project has also allowed lessons learned to be incorporated in other jurisdictions/countries where a similar issue and need exists, as each implementation helps to further refine the software and process. This promotes greater knowledge sharing between countries and moves the innovation from being a pilot to a very well proven template.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The Government of Tanzania, particularly the Ministry of Finance, provided a high level of cooperation in gaining access to the right personnel and data, encouraging participation of users and providing prompt feedback to changes and additions.
Softech Ltd, a consulting firm located in Dar es Salaam, enabled the initial opportunity, provided consultants to work with the Ministry of Finance, performing project management and integration with the Finance Management Information System.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Tanzanian Ministry of Finance were major stakeholders in the project who coordinated users from each of the 96 Ministries to be involved during the implementation, but particularly during and immediately following the go-live date.
There are a total of 350 regular users from 96 Ministries.
All interested parties, such as the IMF and Funding Donors are able to easily view accurate and transparent project and funding status, value and outcomes within each level of Government.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The collection of budget detail has been dramatically reduced, particularly during the initial budget phase, from 3 months to 2 weeks. This provides great agility for the Government through the Ministry of Finance and allows all entities who input and rely on detail to gain significant advantage in having relevant, current and accurate information. This has allowed decision makers to focus on analysis and proactive decision making, rather than focusing on the collection process.
Staff/users are more engaged with each other and with the Ministry of Finance, as they see a benefit to their effort and do not feel that their time is wasted or undervalued. The ease of use gives those inputting data a better understanding of the whole budget process and clarity as to how each part fits into the bigger picture.
Funding entities such as the IMF, African Development Fund, European Union, have greater faith and visibility in use of their funding.
Challenges and Failures
The project was challenged in trying to balance the amount of data which would be collected and how much effort this would require. Although the entry of data was simplified and made more accessible, the central agency (Ministry Of Finance) wanted to capture more information, which would require each Ministry, and those personnel entering budgets within each Ministry, to spend more time entering detail in addition to having a new process.
Infrastructure availability and stability were very important in the project. Isidore and the Ministry of Finance identified this as a challenge and point of failure for previous projects. With the assistance of the Ministry of Communications, this was identified early and testing and advice provided earlier in the project enabled realistic testing of conditions to ensure changes could be incorporated in time.
With many previous unsuccessful similar projects, staff motivation was seen as a challenge. This was overcome slowly through results.
Conditions for Success
Supporting infrastructure, being the Government intranet/network and hardware required for the software, was identified early as a challenge and integral condition for the success of the project.
Support of leadership to manage the large number of Government Ministries and data involved was also an integral condition for the success of the project. Particularly the Ministry of Finance and their desire for success and coordination of relevant personnel both within their Ministry and from many of the other Ministries. Motivated personnel managing budgets and inputting data was a major condition for success.
The Finance Management Software company Softech provided personnel, support and willingness to ensure the integration between the Finance and Budget software was successful.
The Centralised Budget Management solution could be replicated for any Country or jurisdiction which requires the collection, management and reporting of Income and Expenditure.
Isidore has replicated the success of the project in Tanzania in 3 other African countries and 1 Pacific Island country with fewer requirements and resources. This project has confirmed the scalability and suitability and a vast range of inputs and types of information being collected, such as the non-financial related staff, projects, objectives and outcomes.
The outcome is a process and software which, when combined, can be replicated in any public sector jurisdiction.
This project clarified the importance of the confidence of personnel within the government and the need for guidance. With many IT projects failing and a very high rate of centralised budgeting systems failures reliance on software alone was not going to be successful. Engagement and commitment of project personnel had to be earned early with quick results and practical use of early pilot versions of the software.
After taking much direction from project personnel within the government, strong direction as to the method used was a lesson learned early. There was a balance between what the Ministry of Finance wanted and where experience was better enforced to determine the final method of many detailed parts of the process.
Another valuable lesson was in limiting the scope of work, once success seemed more achievable, to the core functions, so that improvements could be gradually rolled out, rather than being the straw that broke the camels back.
Isidore is very proud of the outcome of this innovative project, as is the Government of Tanzania. The feedback from all levels of personnel, from Budget Officers to Information Technology support staff and Administrators.
The project captures 65 Billion Dollars (USD) of Government Expenditure including donor funding, in 200 projects from 400 staff in 90 Ministries. All of this within the time and budget allocated for the project, with less hardware and project personnel than any previous similar attempt.