57 culmination session

Good afternoon, everyone.

First of all, I would like to thank the Australian government for this worthwhile learning opportunity. Without their continued technical assistance to the Department, we would not have been benefited with Professor Stephen Peterson’s knowledge and expertise.

As you all know, Professor Peterson of the University of Melbourne is with us first and foremost to provide advice in the design and implementation of the budget reform. This is part of our arrangement as beneficiary of the PFM for Infrastructure project funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Professor Peterson has trained over 1,600 senior government officials from 54 countries. He has delivered this same course in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. That’s how lucky you all are. So let’s give Professor Peterson a big round of applause to show how much we appreciate his efforts to provide you this Harvard-type course.

I understand that every Friday for the past eight weeks, select Senior Staff from the Central Office and Regional Offices went through a systematic overview of key issues in Public Financial Management, reviewing the fundamentals of government finances as well as learning key techniques and insights.

I hope you have made the most of the past eight weeks by committing your time and energy to reading the materials, actively participating in the discussions, and thinking deeply on the implications of your lessons to our own PFM system.

On the other hand, I am sure that with your years of experience as PFM practitioners, Professor Peterson had a lot to learn from you as well.
As quote-unquote high performing Senior Staff, you are already PFM experts in your own right. However, being in your respective units for a long, long time may have also given you tunnel vision. As PFM is a vast, dynamic field, budget officials can be, as Stephen says on his course objectives, “ siloed” in their work.

It is said that the best way to learn is through experience. True, but this is leaving out a very important aspect of learning. The best way to learn is to reflect on one’s experiences.

This is why we invest in your personal development despite the competence you have already proven to have. We want to give you that space to think about your work outside the requirements of your respective units. We want you to be able to step back, see the links between different silos, and identify where improvements can be made on budgeting as a whole.

Administrations come and go, and you, the career officials stay. You provide the stability of the administrative system. You bear the brunt of changes brought about by new policy directions and reform initiatives. You will be responsible for incubating these reforms, seeing them through from infancy to gestation to maturity.

So let me disclose to you why we need this program. As you know, the success of any major reform depends of at least two things: first, strong leadership support and second, the existence of good and competent men and women — a cadre of reformers– who will persevere through thick and thin to push through the reforms. That cadre of reformers is largely you. You are expected to be the torchbearers of PFM reforms for DBM and the entire bureaucracy.

You are also expected to cascade what you’ve learned to your second in command. In a fast-changing world, mentorship could spell the difference between success or failure. You should help prepare those next in line to ensure a consistent crop of competent PFM experts in the Department.

Again, thank you. Participants, for investing your time and energy in this course. Thanks also to those who helped organize this course.

Have a happy weekend, everyone.

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