Abstracts: June 21st, 2010

Finance functions across the public sector need to up their game in the face of upcoming public spending cuts, according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP report. “A place at the top table? Raising Finance’s game in the Public Sector” highlights the limited strategic role played by the finance function in the management of public sector organizations

A survey, on which the report is based, revealed that only a fifth of respondents consider their role within the organisation as being that of a ‘business partner’, demonstrating that there is still a considerable way to go for the finance function to own its place at the top table as a fully integrated partner to the business. The research also showed that their time is heavily skewed to compliance and control activities, rather than providing high level insight and guidance.

The report reveals that most time is spent on activity relating to efficiency, 30%, and compliance and control, 50%. Only 5% of respondents rated strategy and planning activity within finance functions as high performing, yet this capability will be critical to tackle the scale of anticipated spending cuts. There is no great apparent appetite to learn from others in either the public or private sectors.

The report concludes that finance functions need to respond to the budget cuts climate by really engaging the business as a partner and providing high level insight to inform the key decisions that impact paying for public service delivery.

The report is available from PwC. http://www.psrc-pwc.com/