10 December 2020

Optimizing the Unified Chart of Accounts Design: Tips for Public Financial Management Practitioners


PEMPAL TCOP has recently published its new knowledge product on optimization of the Unified Chart of Accounts Design. During this virtual event Mr. Mark Silins (PEMPAL Treasury COP Lead Thematic Advisor and the main author of the paper) and Ms. Elena Nikulina (PEMPAL Treasury COP Resource Team Leader, World Bank) presented the paper to the members of the World Bank’s FMIS Community of Practice and GovTech Global Solutions Group, led by Mr. Cem Dener (Lead Governance Specialist, World Bank).

The objective of the paper is to provide PFM practitioners with a practical guide for developing or updating a governments Chart of Accounts (CoAs). This paper is not intended as an academic reference, rather it is designed to be a practical tool including examples and tips which officials can utilize when redeveloping the government’s PFM reporting framework. The guidance has been informed by actual country experiences among PEMPAL member countries, and beyond, and through inputs from World Bank experts working with PEMPAL.    

The paper also provides guidance on how countries can better utilize technology and government Financial Management Information Systems, through a more comprehensive design of the chart of accounts – this is termed as Unified Chart of Accounts (UCoAs) structure. The UCoAs is a more strategic approach to chart of accounts design covering all major public financial management reporting and analytical requirements. The paper, however, also acknowledges the practical challenges for many countries in implementing a UCoAs, which requires consensus across all the major functional areas among government PFM stakeholders. For many countries this will be a medium to long-term goal. In recognition of this the paper also provides useful tips for how countries can improve their existing budget classifications / charts of accounts and move towards a more integrated approach

The full paper is accessible at PEMPAL web site through the following link:


The session highlighted the importance of a UCoAs to modern PFM systems, some of the key design issues and challenges and an important role of ICT professionals in ensuring the integrity of the overall PFM framework.  Participants learned about:

  • The importance of an integrated CoA for modern PFM system inter-operability.
  • How this approach supports the metadata requirements for government reporting through data warehousing; and 
  • The key role of ICT officials in “connecting the dots” for the functional departments who are sometimes operating in silos when considering system needs and CoA redesign.