Course Information
Introduction and Background

This course is designed for government officials, development consultants and practitioners, students of development, and those who have keen interest in governance and financial management. Nowadays, effective public financial management is considered critical in combating corruption, alleviating poverty, and ensuring the effective use of internal and external resources. This course is a fundamental course that aims to provide basic understanding of effective public financial management systems to the participants in a better, quicker and efficient way by making them familiar with various internal and external techniques available to strengthen the fiscal transparency and management that is catalyst for economic growth and development.

This UNITAR e-learning course will give a holistic overview of the concept and techniques of public financial management. The course will discuss the role of internal controls and audit system as well as the role of external audits in ensuring efficiency and integrity in public financial management and in combating corruption. The course is designed especially for public officials and development practitioners, but is also open to the general public who want to be aware of public financial management instruments and techniques. Some previous knowledge of public financial management and familiarity with financial concepts will be assumed in this course.

Registration Status: OPEN
Deadline for Enrollment: when slots are full
Course Dates: September 27 to October 29, 2010
Estimated learning time: Minimum of 35 hours
Format: Online/Internet-based (asynchronous)
Language of Instruction: English
Fees: US $ 400/-
Helpline: UNITAR Geneva (Course Administration and Technical Questions)
  Course Objectives  
At the end of the course, the participants should be able to:

1. Discuss the concept of public financial management and recognize the difficulties faced by various sectors in ensuring and maintaining fiscal transparency and effective management;

2. Clearly describe the legal and institutional framework required to ensure effective public financial management and the major provisions covered therein;

3. Distinguish internal controls and audit systems that is applicable to the participants' respective governments and/or countries;

4. Explain the role of contemporary internal control system and internal audits that will guarantee efficient and effective management of government revenues and expenditures; and

5. Assess the applicability or efficiency of external auditing and performance evaluation in public financial management.


  Target Audience  

This course is designed to equip participants with conceptual clarity, practical tools and basic skills leading to improved public financial management practices.

This Course is an intermediate level course designed for officials involved in Ministries of Finance, Ministries of Justice and Public Administration, policy makers, decision makers, auditors participating or would be participating in internal or external audits of public financial management, lawyers, university professors, lecturers and students, especially in the field of finance, law, economics, public and business administration.

  Course Structure / Outline  

The course comprises of the following five modules:

Module 1: An Introduction to Effective Public Financial Management

This module will introduce the concept of public financial management, discuss the rational behind fiscal transparency and the prerequisites for brining and ensuring fiscal transparency. The module will give participants an overview of difficulties faced in various sectors such as procurement and government debt in ensuring transparency and effective management.

Module 2: The Legal and Institutional Framework

This module will discuss the role of carefully and properly designed legal framework for effective public finance management. The module will review the broad principles concerning the role of legislature, the division of powers and responsibilities within the executive and the parliament, the relationship between different levels of government, and the major provisions that should be covered in the legal framework

Module 3: Internal Control and Internal Audit

This module will discuss the concept and role of internal (management) control and internal audit systems in ensuring efficiency and integrity in public finance management. The statutory and regulatory basis for internal controls differ from government to government. The module will set out the principles that underlie internal controls and the rules that must be followed to account for and to use the resources received and spent through the budget. The module will also discuss few examples of internal controls and audits.

Module 4: Internal Control and Audit Framework in Decentralisation

This module will particularly focus and discuss the concept of internal control and audits for use in a decentralization programme. The module will examine various country examples to understand how the lack or inadequacy of internal control and audit systems resulted in making sub-national governments of these countries vulnerable to waste, corruption and inefficiencies. Role of contemporary internal control system and internal audits will be discussed to see how they can strengthen the ability of sub-national governments to efficiently and effectively manage government revenues and expenditure.

Module 5: External Audit, Performance Measurement and Evaluation

This module will discuss the significance of external auditing in ensuring efficient and effective public finance management. The module will discuss various requirements and standards for effective auditing as well as different types of auditing methods. Any limitations of the external auditing process will also be discussed. Furthermore, the module will also briefly discuss the techniques of performance measurement and evaluation as to how they contribute to improve the design and implementation of existing programmes in the present and in future.

  Other Course-related Information
This course will be conducted over the internet using UNITAR's e-Learning infrastructure for a five-week period. Participants will require a minimum of 90 minutes of study each day. The course pedagogy will allow for three levels of interaction. At the first level, the participants will interact with the training content. At the second level, the participants will interact with other participants to share experiences and learn in a contextual manner (using an online discussion board facility). At the third level, the participants will interact with a seasoned international negotiator (course mentor) who will moderate the course for its entire duration. At the core of this course is a set of online interactions and discussions, each of which will be coached by an expert.

UNITAR online courses attempt to create a networked learning environment, in which participants have the flexibility to learn at their own convenience and pace but also are able to interact with peers and experts through the discussion board facility.

This online course will be conducted in the English language.


This course is designed as an online course in which participants will be primarily responsible for their own learning. Each lesson will consist of the following components:

1) Basic Reading Materials (Compulsory Reading Materials): these materials are intended to educate the participants about the basic concepts and principles applicable to the subject-matter of the lesson. It will include, where appropriate, sample materials. These materials will constitute the required reading materials for the lesson

2) Advanced Reading Materials (Optional Reading Materials): this will consist of optional reading materials for participants who wish to learn more about the topic than what is covered in the lesson.

3) External Links: This will refer the interested participants to additional books, articles, documents, and websites that deal with the issues raised in the lesson.

4) Quizzes: At the end of each lesson there will be a set of quizzes for participants to answer. These quizzes are designed to test the participant's understanding of the lesson. Participants are required to pass each quiz and obtain at least 80% or more passing grade in order to be eligible for a certificate. All quizzes will need to be taken online.

5) Community Discussion Board: There will be a community discussion board available on which participants can post questions or comments that can be seen by the instructor and the other participants. This discussion board will be moderated by the course director and UNITAR. Structured discussion strings will be posted on a weekly basis.

All successful participants will be eligible to a certificate after completion of this online course.


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