The Digital Budgeting and Accounting System (dBrain) is Korea’s integrated financial management information system that governs the entire life cycle of the public sector’s financial system. dBrain performs all financial processes of the government online and integrates the financial systems of various government agencies and public entities to produce meaningful, integrated information.
Background and Problem
In 1997, a financial crisis hit South Korea, prompting its government to pull the reign on its finances and cut public spending to mitigate economic downturn and the subsequent corporate restructurings, and to address the overall fiscal burden which had been ballooning at the time due to a combination of lower tax revenue and increased welfare spendings. Such action subsequently led to the adoption of a series of fiscal management reforms, which significantly altered Korea’s fiscal management framework and gave birth to substantive innovations such as the creation of a national fiscal management plan, adoption of top-down budgeting, implementation of the performance management system, and adoption of accrual-based and double-entry accounting. The enactment of the National Accounting Act in 2007 fast-tracked efforts for implementation of the accrual-based national accounting system and its complementary IT system—the Korean Financial Management Information System (KFMIS) or the Digital Budget and Accounting System (dBrain).
Solution and Impact
The dBrain has several features that enable it to fully function as an integrated financial management information system. First, the system anchors on a performance-based strategic financial management framework that institutes all the financial reforms made previously (e.g. top-down budgeting and accrual-basis and double-entry bookkeeping). Secondly, it adopts easy monitoring of programs and projects through a project management system that displays real-time data and information on business processes. Third, it makes room for complete automation of business processes relating to revenue and expenditure through Electronic-Bill Presentment & Payment (EBPP) and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), which aid revenue collection officials in the real-time monitoring of government receipts and promote punctuality and convenience of public service. Fourth, dBrain expands the scope of financial statistical information by integrating previous budget and accounting systems and adopting an interface system that enables it to view financial information of external systems. Finally, dBrain complies with the standards set by the IMF Government Financial Statistics Manual (GFSM) by adopting financial statistics production standards. With the integration of all financial systems, automation of all financial processes, and consolidation of the entire process of public finance, dBrain ensures efficient, convenient, and systematic management of all fiscal-related activities and processes of the public sector.
The automation of financial processes, in particular, has been advantageous for bringing more efficiency in the collection of public revenues and the monitoring of public expenditures. Likewise, the improvement of quality and accessibility of fiscal data and information is a welcome development that facilitates informed decision-making of government officials and policymakers when they develop, monitor, and improve public policies, programs, and projects. In the same way, the availability of detailed fiscal information to the public establishes leverage that promotes transparency in public finance and develops the accountability of government agencies and public officials in the management of public monies.
The dBrain system started operating in full swing in 2007, the same year that the National Accounting Act was enacted. At the time, dBrain had already integrated together Korea’s budget information system called Fiscal Information Management System (FIMSys) and the treasury information system called National Finance Information System (NaFIS)—both of which were previously run by separate ministries.
Several developments also took place between 2011 and 2015: the first development came in 2011 when dBrain introduced performance management system (sub-module system); the second followed in 2012 when the integrated infrastructure monitoring system was adopted; and the the third came in 2015 when the system launched the open fiscal data. In 2016, the Korean government created the Korea Public Finance Information Service (KPFIS) under the Ministry of Strategy and Finance. KPFIS is a specialized institution that will be in charge of managing and operating the dBrain system. Systems development of dBrain have been continuing since then. Currently, the dBrain system is working under 21 subsystems.