Public expenditure tracking methods

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Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys

What are they?
Public expenditure tracking surveys (PETS) track the flow of public funds and determine the extent to which resources actually reach the target groups. The surveys examine the manner, quantity, and timing of releases of resources to different levels of government, particularly to the units responsible for the delivery of social services such as health and education. PETS are often implemented as part of larger service delivery and facility surveys which focus on the quality of service, characteristics of the facilities, their management, incentive structures, etc.
What can we use them for?

  • Diagnosing problems in service delivery quantitatively.
  • Providing evidence on delays, “leakage,” and corruption.


  • Supports the pursuit of accountability when little financial information is available.
  • Improves management by pinpointing bureaucratic bottlenecks in the flow of funds

for service delivery.

  • Government agencies may be reluctant to open their accounting books.
  • Cost is substantial.

COST: Can be high until national capacities to conduct them have been established. For example, the first PETS in Uganda cost $60,000 for the education sector and $100,000 for the health sector.
Sound technical and analytical skills for sample and questionnaire design, data analysis and processing, and good understanding of sector to be assessed.
Five to six months (survey alone takes 1–2 months).