Technical Skills and Leadership in the Public Financial Management Profession.

Author:Eckstein, Norman

One of the major challenges the public financial management profession faces is striking a balance between budgeting and actually financing the services. We need to link the practical application of technical skills to management and leadership approaches that teach us how to address uncertainty These skills will also help convince others that the actions you recommend will make a difference and meet the needs of constituents. Essentially, any analyst or manager can develop a response to challenges using technical skills such as strategic planning and forecasting--but it takes a leader to effectively communicate and implement those ideas in a way that build a resilient organization.

This article links the typical kinds of financial analysis to different leadership approaches. This approach is important because technical financial skills are no longer enough to make one an effective public finance manager.


Finance managers come to their jobs via different educational pathways. Some have earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or a Master of Accounting (MAC). These degrees teach critical skills, but they differ in terms of pedagogy and course content. An MPA usually emphasizes both the normative aspects of government budgeting and technical aspects of public financial management, whereas an MBA or MAC might emphasize skills required for a CPA rather than comprehensively covering governmental budgeting. And each degree and certification program differs in its approach to management, leadership, and methods for addressing uncertainty, given differences across fields.

A technical public financial management skillset, which covers topics such as forecasting, auditing, and financial reporting, isn't easy to attain. The next step--expanding the impact of that skillset by making public financial management more resilient and sustainable, despite the increasing uncertainty the public sector faces--is even more difficult. Creating resiliency and sustainability depends on linking technical skills to management and leadership approaches that work for the public sector.


This article covers five of the technical skills that are critical to public financial management. They provide a good starting point for considering how the profession educates and continues to train new and seasoned public financial managers.

Human Resource Budgeting. Human...

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