Souther Review of Public Administration Volume 6 Number 3


Public Financial Management: A Professional Education?

Khi V. Thai
University of Maine
Thomas D. Lynch
Florida International University

This article addresses the question of whether there is a serious pedagogic deficit in public administration education in the area of public financial management (PFM), an element of public budgeting and financial management. If public administration in general is a questionable profession due to the lack of a recognized body of knowledge (Waldo, 1980:60), there is , in particular, high inconsistency in what is taught in PFM courses. These courses tend to be hybrids of budgeting, public finance, business finance, and other selected topics with no clear consensus on what ought to be taught under the PFM title.

In the deficit is to be remedied, then the academic public administration community should move toward defining and encouraging professional education in PFM. The “do what you wish” approach is not going to educate a broad group of public administrators better schooled to deal with the challenges of PFM.

What should be taught under PFM? The case is made below that (1) better curriculum coordination is appropriate in order ti avoid duplicating public budgeting, public finance or business financial management and (2) PFM should stress managing practical governmental financial responsibilities such as debt administration, treasury management, and revenue administration.

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