*My book is due out in two weeks. As prior blog posts noted, it discusses the limits of institutional reforms in development. *

In the last few blog postings I used the example of Uganda's anticorruption reforms as an example of why I think institutional reforms are limited in development. I will continue the discussion of anticorruption reforms in future blogs, and discuss examples of reforms that were not limited (like Hong Kong in the 1970s and 1980s). I discuss cases of Malawi and Indonesia in the book.

*The book also uses examples of public financial management reform to showcase limits in reform*.

I have been playing with online maps to show some of these limits online. This morning I used a map to show PEFA data of PFM process scores in 80-odd developing countries (PEFA scores for 80-odd countries). The PEFA data comes from a multi-donor assessment used to determine the degree to which countries' systems reflect 'good international practice'. The map showed lots of variation across these countries, with countries in green doing better than those in yellow, orange (brown?), and red.

*One of the similarities across over eighty percent of these countries, however, is the presence of limits....*

The first limit is what I call the de *facto limit: Laws are made better than they are implemented*.

- I calculated this limit by first identifying what I call the de jure dimensions of the PEFA dataset. These are the areas where countries could get a B on the PEFA assessment by just passing a new law or adopting a new procedure. Think about getting a B for adopting a new procurement law that requires ministries to use competitive procurement methods (this is not an actual PEFA example but gives a clear indication of what I was looking at).
- I then identified what I call de facto dimensions of the PEFA dataset. These are the areas where countries can only get a B if they actually implement a new law. Think of a requirement that governments show that 70% of their procurement bids are actually procured according to competitive methods.
- I then calculated the difference between the average scores on de jure and de facto dimensions. The difference reflected the degree to which laws are better than the implementation of laws.

The method is imperfect, but I took a range of measures to ensure the de facto and de jure distinctions were as well done as possible (including having multiple coders). The method has been used in my own work and in others' work on the subject as well, suggesting that other PFM folks think there is some validity to the approach.

*Anyway, the map below shows where the de facto gaps are in 80-odd developing countries.* The bigger the blue dot, the bigger the size of the gap. Notice that there are gaps in almost all countries. Reforms in many places are limited to the improvement of laws and procedures; Implementation is a harder task and implementation results are much weaker.

For those who see South Africa with an average above 3.5 (out of a possible 4, which equates with an A...given that a lowest score 1 equates with a D), you need to also consider that the de facto gap is o.47...*Quite large*. In Mozambique the average score is 2.83 but the de facto gap is 0.87. Meaning that the PFM system looks much better in legislation than it is in practice. I argue in my book that this is the product of pursuing reforms as signals.

Which country has the biggest de facto gap? I will leave it up to you to reflect on the question...

This is the same observation one can make in respect of anticoruption initiatives (based on Global Integrity data, which I will chart in due course).

In navigating the map, you can also look at data for deconcentrated and downstream gaps. I will explain these in future blogs. Or, just order my book here! Buy me!