Ministry of Finance adopts a new Electronic Expenditure Management System developed by DSTI Sierra Leone
In a memo sent to all government institutions on 6 January, Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Finance announced it had replaced its heavily paper-based public financial management system, Public Expense Tracking Survey (PETS) and the Payment Voucher and Commitment Control Forms with a new Electronic Expenditure Management System (EEMS) developed by technologists at the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI).
The Directorate is developing Sierra Leone’s first national financial data architecture with embedded automated financial tools to be deployed within all MDAs and government-funded institutions. The goal is to consolidate all government spending into one seamless, transparent digital system. The current roll out features implementation in all government ministries. DSTI is working with the Ministry of Finance to roll out EEMS to all departments and agencies by 1st April 2020.
PETS were initially put in place to improve accountability and service delivery; however, the previous paper-based system was inefficient. The EEMS will improve the Ministry of Finance’s drive to strengthen and improve Public Financial Management (PFM). Although initially commissioned to digitize only the PETS system, DSTI’s approach to delivery: ideation, design, prototyping, testing, and evaluation – expanded the scope of the work to include other related components such as Vouchers and Commitments and Control Forms at the Accountant General’s Department.
The words ”financial management” appear in 2018 and 2017 Auditor General Reports a total of 76 times, underscoring its importance to government operations. In the last eight years, Sierra Leone’s Auditor General Reports said that the government’s PFM was ”weak.” Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) rarely adhered to the recommendations made in the annual audit. Each year they made the same mistakes, further eroding public and donor trust in state institutions.
According to the Audit Service, Sierra Leone will improve its PFM when it makes “value-for-money” investments, and implements “sound systems and processes for internal control, and asset management.”
Furthermore, donor partners place a high premium on PFM for effective and sustainable economic management and public service delivery.
Before the adoption of EEMS, the Ministry of Finance and DSTI trained all ICT and finance personnel from across all of the government on the use of the EEMS tool, all the budget officers, senior budget officers and budget directors, all the Permanent Secretaries, all the Ministers, and the Deputy Ministers. Additionally, the DSTI team developed a User Manual, Instruction Video, and a Standard Operating Procedure with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Justice.
“The system allows for tracking, which is the one major constraint public servants at MDAs face when making budget requests, ” said Bineta Diop, Business Analyst, DSTI Sierra Leone.
”The EEMS that we have developed in partnership with the Ministry of Finance tracks where the PETS forms are at every stage of the approval process. We will know when a budget request has been reviewed and where the form is at any given time in the approval system.”
The EEMS which automates the generation, submission, and processing of PETS forms, Vouchers and Commitment and Control forms is one part of the National Financial Data Architecture project at DSTI.
“In the past, MDAs have made PETS requests that disappeared. This means that critical project funds could not be allocated in time, ” said Anthony Maada Sallieu, Budget Officer, Budget Bureau, Ministry of Finance.
”With this new electronically generated form, there will be no more lost PETS. It will be easy to keep track of them, and we will save time. This system also creates more accountability.”
The electronic payment and expense systems were developed in partnership with the Ministry of Finance Finance, National Telecommunications Commission, Ministry of Works (including the Sierra Leone Roads Authority), Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, Accountant General’s Department and the Ministry of Information and Communication.