Introducing Evidence-Based Budgeting

Oct 22 – Nov 5, 2018 , Ljubljana, Slovenia Online course
Nov 20 – 22, 2018 , Ljubljana, Slovenia Workshop
Oct 22, 2018

The goal of this blended learning initiative was to support public officials from SEE countries, as well as EU member states in the process of deepening their theoretical and practical knowledge in spending reviews. This public policy evaluation instrument offers a more sustainable approach compared to linear across-the-board expenditure cuts which may generate negative economic and social impact in the medium and long term. This learning initiative gave the participants comprehensive theoretic basis about spending reviews framework and methodologies, accompanied by case studies how the analysis is conducted in practical manner.

How did you benefit?

This blended learning initiative aimed to help public officials better understand spending reviews, a tool that is seeking a 'smarter' expenditure allocation across national policy priorities as well as increasing efficiency and effectiveness of already approved policies. Participants learnt how applying spending reviews can help them in ensuring better budgeting and design of policies.

Upon completion of this blended learning initiative, the participants were be able to:

  • Understand the role and objectives of spending reviews, as one of the tools used in the fiscal consolidation and the advancement of the expenditure-based policy
  • Understand spending reviews’ scope and framework
  • Identify the connection between spending reviews and budget preparation processes
  • Identify priority spending areas in their national budgets
  • Improve allocative efficiency by identifying potential shifts in expenditure from lower priority to higher priority sectors,
  • Improve value for money, by identifying areas of inefficient spending, where similar outcomes can be achieved with reduced inputs
  • Determine and utilize international benchmarking for better targeting spending review agendas.

What did you learn?

This learning initiative was delivered as blended learning, consisted of both e-learning phase and a workshop. Its main goal was to bring together public officials to deepen their knowledge in evidence-based budgeting and enhancing efficiency in expenditure allocation.

The learning initiative was divided into:

  1. E-learning phase: The online learning phase started on October 22, 2018 and finished on November 5, 2018. It served as preparation for the face-to-face part of the course and was delivered through the CEF Online Learning Campus:

The participants were asked to read some preliminary material offering an introduction to spending reviews, and the different stages in the process of conducting spending reviews.

The envisaged workload for participants was about 4 hours per week, consisting of webinar sessions, reading materials, end-of-unit quizzes, assignment and an opportunity to connect with other course fellows to debate ideas and get help mastering addressed subject matters.

  1. Face-to-face workshop: at CEF in Ljubljana from November 20 to November 22, 2018.

During this workshop, the concepts of carrying out effective spending review, both the strategic and the institutional view, principles for improving the quality of public finances through the use of spending reviews, Spending review methodology and Cost-benefit analysis methodology were elaborated in details. Moreover, a strong focus was put on developing participants’ skills to detect efficiency savings and opportunities for cutting low-priority or ineffective expenditures in a coordinated effort. However, there is no one-size-fits-all way of carrying out spending reviews. Thus, participants were also engaged in an interactive exercise to share their country’s objectives and experiences. They were asked to work on a case study, where they developed well elaborated advise on a selected topic, and prepared a strategy that is fiscally sustainable while seeking to maintain a high - quality level of service.

The event was held in English and it was organized in a highly participatory and interactive manner. Thus, the participants were actively engaged in discussions through Q&A sessions and team work on case studies. Moreover, they were strongly encouraged to exchange their national experiences, good practices and challenges.

Who attended?

Public officials from countries across Europe, and in particular the CEF constituency countries attended this learning initiative:

  • analysts of ministry of finance budget department and macro-fiscal department
  • finance directors of line ministries and public officials
  • heads of policy departments of line ministries
  • officials from Parliamentary budget offices and fiscal councils 
  • analysts from other government agencies and institutions in charge of public policy analysis and performance

Practical information

To participate in the online pat of this blended learning, basic information technology is needed i.e. stable internet connection; and computer, laptop or tablet.

No fee was charged for the officials working in the public sector. Coffee breaks and lunches during the workshop will be provided by the CEF. UNDP will cover travel and accommodation costs for up to 4 participants from Moldova, 2 participants from Serbia and 2 participants from Montenegro. The costs of travel and accommodation for the participants coming from other countries will need to be covered by their sponsoring institution or other donor.

Applications need to be submitted no later than September 23, via online application form.

Candidates will need to be approved by the CEF; confirmations will be sent to selected candidates by September 30.


Suzanne Flynn, IMF PFM Advisor — Suzanne works for the IMF and has been based at the CEF since November 2016. She is technical assistance advisor for public financial management in South East Europe. At the CEF, Suzanne helps deliver learning programs related to her work. She joined the IMF eight years ago after six years working in East Africa with PwC and in the Ugandan treasury. She started her career in the UK public service in 1987, starting in central government, and qualifying as a CIPFA accountant in local government in 1991. Before embarking on her career in Africa, she spent 3 years working for CIPFA in London. She has also worked in a number of Asian and Central Asian countries, and worked with several governments in Europe.

Fazeer Rahim, IMF — Fazeer Rahim is a Senior Economist at the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF. He has worked with a number of countries in Africa, Central Asia, and Europe to strengthen budget preparation and execution, fiscal risk analysis and reporting, fiscal transparency, and public investment management. He was previously the Macro-Fiscal Advisor for the IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Center for East Africa for 3 years, where he provided technical assistance in areas such as forecasting, medium-term fiscal and budget frameworks, fiscal transparency, and fiscal risk reporting and management. Prior to joining the IMF, he held academic positions in universities in Portugal, Mauritius and the UK. He holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Bordeaux, and a PhD from the University of Birmingham.

Štefan Kišš, Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic — Štefan Kišš is Director of the Value for Money department at the Slovak MoF. VfM department carries out the revision of public expenditures, prepares sectoral spending reviews and is in charge of economic assessment of the state investment projects. Kišš previously served at the Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the EU in Brussels and at the Institute for Financial Policy, where he spent eight years in charge of spending and structural analysis. He studied international economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and international relations at the University of Economics in Bratislava. He started his career as editor in the national daily Hospodárske noviny during his studies.

Juraj Mach, Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic — Juraj Mach currently serves as the Director of the Public Policy Assessment Department and Team Leader for Spending Review of Agriculture Expenditure, both within the Value for Money Unit of the Slovak MoF. He has lead multiple spending reviews in the Slovak government, most notably covering Transport and Social Policy. His work also includes methodological and practical guidance for the assessment and planning of public investment.

Matej Kurian, Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic —  Matej Kurian currently serves as one of the directors at Value for Money Unit of the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak MoF. At present he leads Public Wage Bill spending review, his past spending reviews examined Government IT and Education. Previously, Matej worked on open-data and anti-corruption projects.

Natalia Zbirciog - Vandenberghe, European Commission  -  Natalia is a policy officer with the Structural Reform Support Service of the European Commission. She in charge of public financial management reforms in a number of EU Member States and supervises and participates to technical support projects in areas such as spending reviews, accounting reforms, performance budgeting, etc. Prior to joining the EC three years ago, Natalia has founded and managed a consulting and training company with clientele in France and Belgium. Before that she had over ten years of experience in corporate consulting in areas such as mergers and acquisitions and investment funds. Natalia started her career in technical assistance projects creating the commercial banking system or restructuring the tax administrations in East-European countries.

Marjon Schols, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands — Marjon Schols is co-ordinator of evaluation and policy information at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. With her team she is responsible for the provision of policy information and for the policy evaluations and reviews at the Ministry. In her previous job at the Ministry of Finance, she was secretary of 2 spending reviews and assisted in the topic selection process of spending reviews. Marjon started her career as a researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Social Research and worked as a research adviser at the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. In 2015 she obtained her PhD at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Danka Kovaľová, Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic —  Danka Kovaľová has been Director of the Analytical Caterer since September 2016. She completed university education in mathematics and informatics and in law. Before joining Analytical Centre she worked as senior consultant and run a private company for more than 11 years. She has 20 years professional experience in providing consultancy services and strategic advisory for government sector in public finance management, structural funds management and EU policies evaluation. Undertaken assignments involve, inter alia, studies, analysis and evaluations for EU institutions, various international organisations and national authorities in several counties. She has fair knowledge of analytical and evaluation methods/techniques and experience with application of wide range of quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods and analysis.


This learning initiative was supported by:

International Monetary Fund Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic UNDP logo
European Commission (EC) Ministry of Finance, the Netherlands Slovenia's Development Cooperation
Ministry of Finance Slovenia