Reconsidering public budgeting after the COVID-19 outbreak: key lessons and future challenges

Anessi-Pessina, Eugenio; Barbera, Carmela; Langella, Cecilia; Manes-Rossi, Francesca; Sancino, Alessandro; Sicilia, Mariafrancesca and Steccolini, Ileana (2020). Reconsidering public budgeting after the COVID-19 outbreak: key lessons and future challenges. Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, 32(5) pp. 957–965.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBAFM-07-2020-0115

Abstract

Purpose The paper aims to offer a viewpoint on how governmental budgeting needs to be reconsidered after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Design/methodology/approach Building on extant research, and drawing on the Italian context, the paper provides reflections on four interrelated aspects: (1) how budgeting and reporting processes and formats are being modified; (2) how budgeting may enhance governments' financial resilience; (3) how citizens are involved in the budgeting cycles and (4) how emergency responses may produce opportunities for corruption.
Findings To tackle COVID-19 related challenges, budgeting, rebudgeting, reporting processes and formats need to be reconsidered and supported by the development of new competencies. Governments will need to put stronger emphasis on the anticipatory and coping roles of budgeting to reduce public organizations' exposure to shocks and support governmental resilience. The involvement of citizens has proven critical to face the pandemic and will become increasingly relevant due to the financial impacts of COVID-19 on future public service provision. Greater attention to the risks of increased corruption is also needed.
Originality/value Drawing lessons from one of the countries most hit by COVID-19, the paper offers a viewpoint on a timely topic of international relevance by looking in an integrated way at interrelated topics such as budgeting, rebudgeting, reporting, financial resilience, coproduction and corruption.

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