Expenditure management reviews of the security system in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone


In 2003, the government of Afghanistan requested support from the World Bank and DFID to conduct a review of public finance in the security system. The review followed concerns of the minister of finance that the entire security system was rapidly becoming fiscally unsustainable, mainly due to large off-budget transfers that had direct impact on government on-budget spending. In 2006, DFID commissioned a similar review of public expenditures in Sierra Leone to gauge the overall effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the security system. The main objectives of both reviews from a public financial management (PFM) and development perspective were to:

• Gain as complete an understanding as possible of the current level and structure of security expenditures, recent trends, and likely future expenditure requirements based on current plans.
• Assess the extent to which the strategies that are used are coherent and the government institutions guide public expenditure allocations.
• Review processes for determining funding levels, expenditure allocations, budget execution and post-execution functions, and assess the extent to which they follow sound PFM principles.
• Describe the institutional framework for the security system and ascertain the extent to which it embeds or is conducive to sound PFM.

Entry point

In both cases the reviews were conducted with and for national authorities in order to strengthen national analytical capacities in policy making, planning and budgeting. The reviews were able to consolidate lessons learned across a wide range of stakeholders, and the various findings strengthened reform-related decision making with regard to institutional mandates, staffing and policy management issues. In Afghanistan, the review allowed the ministry of finance to engage in discussions with
the National Security Council, as well as international partners funding the military and police reform programmes. In the case of Sierra Leone, the review has provided a platform for costing the entire five-year security sector reform programme.

Lessons learned

PFM principles are applicable — The reviews have demonstrated that standard PFM reviews can be applied to the security system just as they can to any other sector, such as education and health.

PFM reviews are valuable to assess sustainability — The reviews have allowed national governments and their international supporters to rapidly assess the extent to which national authorities will be able to take control of functions that are currently funded externally, off-budget or through grants.

Support for SSR should be consistent with PFM principles — Continued off-budget financing of security sector reform programmes undermines national ownership, co-ordination, and potentially long-term fiscal discipline.


The failure to address the difficulties of transition led to significant differences within DFID and within the international community more broadly as to the role of the police in Sierra Leone. Entrenched positions developed as to whether the police should be viewed as having primary responsibility for security, or whether they should be embraced as part of the justice community. The answer is both, but a weak migration plan between two discrete programmes encouraged these conceptual differences to take root.


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