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Agenda

The Global Government Finance Summit addresses some of the biggest challenges facing public sector leaders finance leaders around the world.

The draft discussion topics for the Summit are detailed below.
Each session is a free-flowing discussion between participants, including stimulating presentations from a range of Civil Service leaders.

Thursday 14 October 2021

Welcome

Facilitator: Matt Ross – Editorial Director, Global Government Forum

Thursday 14 October 2021

The big picture: managing economic growth and the public finances

Nearly two years after COVID-19 emerged, civil servants working in finance and economic policy face a broad set of rapidly-evolving challenges. At this first session, national leaders will consider how their economies are changing – and how people’s livelihoods can be protected and enhanced in the post-pandemic world.

Which of the pandemic-driven changes in business sectors and working patterns will endure, reshaping economic activity? How can growth be channelled to address inequality and insecurity, helping to heal the wounds left by COVID-19? How can governments balance the needs of short-term support and long-term investment, protecting workers and businesses today while preparing the ground for faster growth and smaller deficits? And how much breathing space do finance departments have, as public debts climb in an environment of low interest rates? Painting in the backdrop behind the Summit, the session will explore some of the biggest questions facing finance and policy officials.

Thursday 14 October 2021

A broader balance sheet: accounting for the real world

Governments’ policy goals may evolve as administrations change and new challenges arise, but financial accounting and investment appraisal frameworks rarely do. Yet unless metrics and decision-making processes are built around elected leaders’ priorities and solid economic assumptions, their outcomes will never match expectations.

Most public accounting systems, for example, disregard both non-debt liabilities – including the loan guarantees underpinning many countries’ pandemic stimulus packages – and many of government’s intangible assets, such as intellectual property. Public sector investment rules tend to prioritise the ‘multiplier effect’, and end up pumping ever more money into overheated sections of the economy. A narrow focus on GDP as a performance metric may leave populations richer but unhappier. And the exclusion of ‘externalities’ such as pollution from economic metrics sits awkwardly with the growing global commitment to improving environmental sustainability.

In this session, civil service finance leaders will discuss how financial management and assessment systems could be updated – exploring concepts such as ‘public sector net worth’ metrics and ‘wellbeing’ targets, and rethinking investment and accounting rules to reflect today’s challenges and priorities.

Friday 15 October 2021

Threat assessment: matching risk and resources

Set against the huge costs of the pandemic, the money spent on public health and pandemic preparedness in the preceding years looks wholly inadequate. Meanwhile, governments’ investments in preventing and mitigating climate change are regularly dwarfed by the repair bills after extreme weather events. And in social policy, small savings in social services, youth provision and education support can drive up criminal justice spending a few years down the road. Yet governments are not opposed in principle to preventive spending: most intelligence, cyber security and defence spending is intended to minimise the risk of harm in future years.

At this session, finance leaders will explore how best to assess and address financial risks across the policy portfolio. How can treasuries and finance ministries spot and quantify emerging threats? Could budgeting systems be reshaped to better match resources to the dangers countries face? And how can finance professionals prepare themselves to address the economic and financial consequences of risks managed in the first instance by other parts of government? With cheap lending creating some headroom for long-term investments, participants will discuss how to ensure that preventive spending targets the greatest threats.

Friday 15 October 2021

Leading the way in civil service finance

In recent years, many civil services have made good progress in professionalising their finance functions – strengthening staff training, tools and career paths. As a result, traditional workstreams such as spending management and auditing have much improved; but in strategic decision-making, finance leaders still often punch below their weight. Advising senior leaders and business owners on the financial implications and likely efficacy of different policy options, operating models and organisational reforms, finance leaders can add far more value if involved in decision-making processes at a very early stage.

During this session, civil service leaders will discuss how finance expertise can be better integrated into operational and policy planning. They’ll explore the skills, experiences and qualifications that can best equip finance professionals for senior roles. And they’ll consider how systems of recruitment, staff development and performance management should be reformed to create a more effective, valued and influential finance leadership cadre.

Friday 15 October 2021

Summary and thanks

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