Online accounting training for one

I wrote previously about the work I do for Ibba Girls Boarding School in South Sudan and the trip I made to the school in February 2015 to recruit a new finance manager. The school is (almost entirely) funded by a UK charity, the Friends of Ibba Girls School (FIGS), and it is important to FIGS that the school has high standards of probity and governance to go with the high quality education. That’s why the school is willing to employ a finance manager whose primary job is to manage the school’s cash on a day to day basis. Last year …

It’s been ten years since my last permanent job

Yesterday was my fiftieth birthday. Today is the tenth anniverary of my last day as the director of financial services at Doncaster Council. This seems a good day for reflection and for thinking about the future. For the last ten years I have been self-employed. At the time I left Doncaster Council I thought I was trading the security of a local government job with a pension, etc for greater variety. As it turned out the job security which had always seemed to me to be unchangeable has been eroded so perhaps I didn’t lose much. Certainly, I have managed to …

Getting involved with Ibba Girls Boarding School

This story starts in 2002 when I began a Master’s in Public Administration course at Warwick Business School. That’s where I first met Professor John Benington, who at that time was the head of the Institute of Governance and Public Management (IGPM). Fast forward six years, long after I’d got my MPA, and John sent an email to alumni asking if anyone was interested in helping out with some work the IGPM was doing with the Ministry of Commerce in what was then, prior to independence, the appointed Government of South Sudan. (After more or less 50 years of civil …

Time to practise what I teach

As someone who thinks of himself as something of an expert in public financial management, for most of the last ten years I’ve done strategic things. As a consultant I tend to work as an advisor on projects; as a lecturer I tend to talk in class about general concepts like budgeting (although I like to include stories from my real-life experience); and it is much the same when I’m writing. Next month, however, I’m going to roll my sleeves up, literally, and do some practical financial management at a girls school in South Sudan. Ibba is a small village in …

Online certificate in IPSAS launched

I’m a CIPFA accountant but over the last few months I’ve been working with a different accounting institute, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) on the development of an online course. The course is their Certificate in International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The course opened today for registrations. Those who don’t know much about the accounting profession might not be entirely surprised to learn that accountants have lots of rules and regulations to follow. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on your point of view) the rules and regulations are not the same for every organisation in the world. …

Financial Management and Accounting in the Public Sector 2nd edition

The second edition of Financial Management and Accounting in the Public Sector was published by Routledge last week. I’m really proud that Routledge felt the book was successful enough to justify a new edition. On accepting the commission I had not realised quite how much work would be involved but I am pleased with the results. As well as updating the tables, it was a chance to address the structure of some of the chapters to make them flow better. I was also able to include a couple of case studies thanks to people I know at Lincolnshire Police and …

Why a smile could make a difference to public services

A couple of weeks ago I was teaching 53 police officers about managing public money as part of the national High Potential Development Scheme. At one point I was talking about pricing strategies and I drew a idling curve on the board to illustrate the idea that the production of goods creates a smaller part of the value than the design that proceeds it and the marketing that follows. At the time I couldn’t remember the person behind it but it has nagged at me until I found the answer. What I was explain got the class was the Stan …

You’ll want this book if you’re going to set up a new country

I’ve been working on the manuscript for the second edition of my book. As part of my research, I’ve just read The International Handbook of Public Financial Management edited by Richard Allen, Richard Hemming and Barry Potter. It is an impressively comprehensive handbook covering practical and theoretical aspects of how governments organise their financial affairs. It ranges from the legal framework through budgeting and spending (including chapters on procurement, payroll and cash management) to reporting and oversight. The book’s contributing authors are all well-qualified and experienced in public financial management, with all of them having worked in or with the International …

Transaction costs have to be paid for

Ronald Coase, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, died last week. Way back in 1932, when he was 21, he did some research into why it was that companies did not use pricing and markets to organise themselves internally even though they relied on pricing and markets being the best way to operate an economy. (See this article for the importance of this theory for the development of the internet.) The answer, he found, is that using an “internal market” brings with it transaction costs. To have an internal market a company (or other organisation) would need to spend money and resources negotiating contracts and …