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Nov 2014

2014 lectures: Public value: principles into practice

On 4 November 2014, this CIMA and Tomorrow's Company lecture discussed how to improve the performance and outcomes of public spending and finance through principles-led management. The keynote address was delivered by Julian Kelly FCMA, CGMA, Director General, Public Spending and Finance, HM Treasury.

Julian spoke of the UK’s current financial situation, in which the country ‘pays around USD70bn in debt interest’, and the process of moving public finances onto a more sustainable path. He highlighted the excellent work being done by government agencies to reduce spending, including the Ministry of Justice’s USD2bn reduction in spending over two years while maintaining the same prison population.

He highlighted the role of finance in government to provide value, including that ‘finance has a responsibility to think about how we bring all information together to make intelligent decisions’, and noting that they are looking for us to be the strategists and catalysts for change.’ The importance of the CGMA Global Management Accounting Principles in developing the capacity of finance to support decision-making is paramount, he noted: ‘the principles focus on impact, relevance, value and trust, and you need quality people to deliver them’.

In the subsequent panel discussion, Dr. Scott Steedman CBE, Director of Standards at the British Standards Institution, noted how you ‘can use voluntary standard to drive principles.' CIMA President Keith Luck FCMA, CGMA expanded on this, noting the importance of the Global Management Accounting Principles and why they should be adopted by the public and private sectors to ‘benchmark the finance function and its value.’

Alan Buchanan, Director of Legal Services, Company Secretary of John Lewis Partnership, agreed that principles can have a greater effect than regulation, and that empowering people to make informed decisions is the best way forward.

CIMA Chief Executive Charles Tilley delivered the closing remarks, which highlighted the importance of the Global Management Accounting Principles in both the public and private sectors. He emphasised the value of voluntary principles, stating ‘the reason for adopting principles rather than standards is to allow room for innovation within organisations.’