Government at a Glance

2221-4399 (online)
2221-4380 (print)
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Published every two years, Government at a Glance provides indicators that compare the political and institutional frameworks of government across OECD countries.

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Government at a Glance 2011

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24 June 2011
9789264096615 (HTML) ; 9789264096585 (PDF) ;9789264096578(print)

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This second edition of Government at a Glance more than doubles the number of available indicators of OECD governments’ performance. The indicators compare the political and institutional frameworks of government across OECD countries as well as government revenues and expenditures, employment, and compensation. They also include indicators describing government policies and practices on integrity, e-government and open government, and introduce several composite indexes summarising key aspects of public management practices in human resources management, budgeting, procurement, and regulatory management. For each figure, the book provides a dynamic link (StatLink) which direct the user to a web page where corresponding data are available in Excel® format. The report also offers two special chapters, on leveraged governance and on the policy implications of fiscal consolidation.

The 58 data sets of member and partner countries in this 2011 edition of Government at a Glance include the first ever international comparison of public sector pay for selected professions and public service occupations, which points to a fairly egalitarian pay structure in the public sector;  estimations of country-specific fiscal consolidation requirements, which have been found to be large in many countries; the level of disclosure of private interests in the three branches of government; and  the implementation gap of Open Government policies to promote transparency, efficiency and trust.

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  • Foreword
    The second edition of Government at a Glance is being published at a time when the aftermath of the financial and economic crises that started in 2008 is being felt everywhere. Reforming the financial sector, addressing persistent high unemployment, the lack of economic growth, the volatility of markets, the risk of trade and foreign direct investment restrictions and the increase in migration flows are serious policy challenges of unprecedented scope. The room for manoeuvre in most countries is further reduced through high debt and deficit levels. In fact, the speed, scope and timing of fiscal consolidation are considered by many as crucial for progress in other public policy objectives. Government at a Glance 2011 provides key quantitative and qualitative data that can enable evidence-based decision making as well as help governments plan for the future. It allows for the comparison of government activities, practices and performance across a number of critical dimensions, and helps pinpoint areas that warrant further examination. Chapter II tackles questions about the quality of reforms announced to date in member countries.
  • Preface
    The recent crisis has been caused by major failures in regulation and supervision by public authorities, as well as by shortcomings in risk management and corporate governance by the private sector. It has shaken many long-held assumptions about the functioning of markets and the role of governments, and as such has led to calls for changes to the global governance architecture and for the redefinition of the respective roles of the state and of markets, in order to restore citizens’ trust in both.
  • Reader's Guide
    In order to accurately interpret the data found in Government at a Glance, readers need to be familiar with the following methodological considerations which cut across a number of indicators. The "Glossary" at the end of the publication, as well as the "Methodology and definitions" section for each indicator, offer additional important information.
  • Introduction
    The Government at a Glance series is designed to enable evidence-based policy making in member countries by allowing them to benchmark their activities and results in order to facilitate peer learning, and ultimately improve their own performance. The imperative of supplying internationally comparative evidence for public policy making is the guiding principle behind the selection of indicators for the publication. Policy makers and citizens need data on inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes to evaluate how their governments are performing and to make informed decisions about resources, policies and programmes. The framework for this publication reflects this important sequencing: it is structured according to the production chain of government performance (Figure 0.1).
  • OECD 50th Anniversary - Leveraged Governance
    Throughout its 50 years, the OECD has been a government-centred organisation. Representatives of member countries approve its budget, work programmes, codes and standards, and policy pronouncements. At the more than 1 000 meetings convened under OECD auspices each year, delegates present their government’s position on a broad range of economic and sectoral issues. OECD experts compile dozens of country-based statistical reports, conduct regular peer reviews of national policies, and carry out numerous analytical studies of government policies and actions. The flagship publication in which this essay appears is appropriately titled Government at a Glance.
  • Fiscal Consolidation
    Over the past three years, governments acted decisively on national and international fronts to avoid a global financial and economic meltdown. Although governments have heeded the call to action, their job is far from over. While governments pursue policies to create jobs, grow their economies, improve fairness, reduce inequalities and rebuild trust, many also need to introduce reforms to address rising debt levels that resulted from the crisis.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Public Finance and Economics

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    • General government revenues
      Governments raise revenues to finance the goods and services they provide and to fulfil their redistributive role. The amount of revenues collected is mainly determined by historical and current political decisions, but is also strongly influenced by economic fluctuations.
    • Structure of general government revenues
      A breakdown of government revenues into its different sources can shed light on the relative contributions from citizens and/or sectors of the economy to pay for public expenditures.
    • Revenue structure by level of government
      Central, state and local governments vary in terms of their ability to levy taxes and collect social contributions. Revenue transfers between levels of government illustrate the financial interdependence among different levels of government, while collected taxes can be considered a proxy of the fiscal autonomy of sub-central governments.
    • General government expenditures
      Governments spend money to provide goods and services and redistribute income. Like government revenues, government expenditures reflect historical and current political decisions but are also highly sensitive to economic developments. General government spending as a share of GDP and per person provide an indication of the size of the government across countries. However, the large variation in these ratios highlights different approaches to delivering public goods and services and providing social protection, not necessarily differences in resources spent. For instance, if support is given via tax breaks rather than direct expenditures, expenditure/GDP ratios will naturally be lower. In addition, it is important to note that the size of expenditures does not reflect government efficiency or productivity.
    • Structure of general government expenditures (by COFOG function)
      Governments finance a variety of public goods and services, from providing unemployment benefits to building new schools to subsidising alternative energy sources. For OECD-EU member countries, common EU policy goals regarding economic growth, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and research and development (among others) may also affect the structure of expenditures.
    • Expenditures structure by level of government
      The responsibility for financing public goods and services and redistributing income is shared between different levels of government. For example, in some countries, policing is financed by local governments while in others it is funded by central government. In some cases, the provision of goods and services is jointly funded by central, state and/or local governments.
    • General government expenditures by type
      Traditional tasks of government are defence, maintenance of public order and safety, and the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. The goods that the government provides in these areas are known as "collective goods". Tasks of government that have come to the fore in connection with the development of the welfare state, such as health, education, social services and social benefits, are known as "individual goods" and have accounted for a larger share of spending since the 1950s in most OECD countries
    • Production costs in general government
      Decisions on the amount and type of goods and services to produce, as well as on how best to produce them, are often political in nature and based on a country’s social and cultural context. While some governments choose to outsource a large portion of the production of goods and services to non-governmental or private entities, others decide to produce the goods and services themselves.
    • General government investment
      Government investment creates a public infrastructure that is essential for long-term economic growth and societal well-being. Governments spend money on building roads, housing, schools and hospitals, as well as communications networks. In addition, governments can provide grants (transfers) to the private sector to encourage their investment activities. In response to the economic downturn, many OECD governments introduced stimulus plans in 2008 featuring an increase in government capital expenditures through investments in soft and hard infrastructure.
    • Final consumption expenditures by government and households
      The role of government in providing goods and services varies greatly across OECD countries: some governments assume more of a regulatory role whereas others are more involved in service delivery. On average, governments provide just over a quarter of the goods and services consumed in the economy each year, including those services that the government provides directly via its own staff and indirectly via outside contractors. However, there is much variation amongst OECD countries: in countries such as Mexico, Switzerland, Chile, Turkey and the United States, governments play a smaller role in service delivery. In comparison, in the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, governments have a more prominent role, which is also reflected in their higher expenditures and revenues as a share of GDP.
    • Size of general government financial assets and liabilities
      Like households and corporations, governments hold both financial assets (such as accumulated cash or currency) and liabilities (debt). The amount of government-held financial assets and liabilities broadly correlates to the difference between revenues and expenditures over time: deficits are financed by either depleting savings (spending financial assets) or borrowing money (increasing liabilities). Along with other indicators, the net balance between government-held assets and liabilities can be one key measure of fiscal sustainability. In general, the higher a government’s liabilities, the higher the perceived risk by markets on the probability of a government defaulting on loans and therefore the higher risk premium required by the market, which in turn raises the cost of debt.
    • Government deficits/surpluses
      The fiscal balance is the difference between government revenues and spending. A fiscal deficit occurs when, in a given year, a government spends more than it receives in revenues. On the other hand, a government will run a surplus when revenues exceed expenditures. Fiscal balances include a structural component (adjusted for one-offs in revenues and spending) as well as a cyclical one. A structural deficit occurs when the economy is running at full capacity and governments continue to spend more than their revenues. The cyclical component of a deficit, however, is sensitive to the economic cycle and results from the difference between actual and potential output. For example, during an economic downturn, cyclical deficits result from the lower revenues and higher expenditures on social programmes such as unemployment benefits.
    • General government debt
      Government debt represents governments’ outstanding liabilities stemming from the need to finance deficits through borrowing. Although deficits increased in many countries since 2000, between 2000 and 2007 debt levels as a share of GDP in many countries dropped due to economic growth. However, the recent economic crisis has reversed this trend. Debt levels have sharply increased due to low GDP growth and large deficits resulting from lower revenue collections (due to tax reductions designed to stimulate the economy and/or declines in economic activity) and increased spending on stimulus measures, social transfers or support for financial institutions. As a result, the average OECD member country’s public debt rose from 57% of GDP in 2007 to 74% in 2010.
    • Special feature: Governments' role in promoting R&D
      Following the global financial and economic crisis, most OECD member countries developed long-term strategic responses focused on promoting innovation and encouraging research and development (R&D) to restore sustainable growth. As both financiers of R&D activities throughout the economy and also performers of R&D themselves, governments play a key role in supporting a country’s innovation system. In addition to directly supporting the innovation efforts of firms via grants or other transfers, governments provide education, training and skills development, and foster knowledge creation and diffusion.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Strategic Foresight and Leadership

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    • Fiscal sustainability
      Ensuring long-term fiscal sustainability requires that governments engage in continual strategic forecasting of future liabilities and macroeconomic trends in order to adapt financial planning accordingly. Indeed, increasing debt levels are harmful to governments’ fiscal positions, and can cause a vicious cycle of growing debt and reduce potential for economic growth as funds are diverted away from productive investments. Currently however, many OECD countries face rising public debt-to-GDP ratios following the financial and economic crises, and there is a general consensus that the fiscal trajectory of most member countries is unsustainable. The costs associated with addressing the economic crisis, as well as projected increases in ageing-related spending, present difficult challenges for the sustainability of public finances.
    • Strategic human resources management
      Strategic human resources management (HRM) is key to align people management with the strategic goals of public sector organisations. It allows governments to have the right number of people at the right place and with the right competencies. Such practices not only help governments meet strategic objectives, but also increase efficiency, responsiveness and quality in service delivery. Strategic HRM also encourages governments to look to the future, thinking strategically about the right mix of people and skills that will be needed to respond to changing societal needs.
    • Senior civil service
      Senior civil servants (SCS) are located at a critical junction between strategy making and strategy execution in government. They must display the leadership capabilities to execute high-level policy directives quickly and effectively (particularly in times of crisis) as well as draw from bottom-up institutional knowledge and the experience of the civil service to contribute to evidence-based decision making. Improving governmental performance, agility and efficiency therefore rests partly on the quality and capacity of the senior civil service.
    • Political influence in senior staffing
      Exerting political influence in senior staffing decisions can stem from the need to ensure responsiveness from the civil service, as well as the need to overcome the challenges posed by complex procedures and (at times) slow-moving bureaucracies or institutions. In times of economic and social crises, for example, greater agility and responsiveness from the civil service may be particularly important in designing and implementing policy decisions quickly and effectively. However, although political influence in senior staffing may help increase strategic agility in government, it can also indicate tendencies towards patronage and favouritism that may undermine good governance.
    • Strategic decision making
      Strategic decision making relies on effective co-ordination to enhance the coherence of government actions, continual monitoring of and responsiveness to the external environment, and providing evidence-based data for informed decisions. The provision of high-quality advice and support to government leaders is essential in achieving these objectives and informing the decisions of government. Alongside the public service, ministerial advisors have the potential to contribute to each of these functions.
    • E-government strategies
      In the aftermath of the crisis, tough austerity initiatives have spurred many OECD governments to rethink their e-government priorities and boost e-government’s strategic role in supporting the recovery. E-government is seen more than ever as at the core of public sector reforms, and policy makers consider it as a pivotal policy tool to enable governments to do more with less. As such, national e-government strategies aim to exploit new efficiencies, create more effective ways of working and improve productivity within the public sector. The implementation of e-government initiatives can be a reflection of a government’s capacity for strategic foresight and leadership, as successful execution of these large-scale initiatives requires that the public administration co-ordinate various stakeholders across a wide breadth of administrative silos.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Employment in General Government and Public Corporations

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    • Employment in general government and public corporations
      The proportion of the labour force working for the government is one indication of how public services are delivered in a country (whether predominantly by government workers or through the private and non-profit sectors as well) and is an important factor determining the costs of service delivery. In countries where a large proportion of the labour force works for government, government employment could also crowd out private sector employment.
    • General government employment across levels of government
      The share of government staff employed at sub-central levels is an indicator of the level of decentralisation of public administrations. In general, larger shares of government employees at the sub-central level indicate that more responsibilities are delegated to regional and local governments.
    • Ageing central government workforce
      The majority of OECD member countries are experiencing population ageing, with changes occurring at a faster pace in some countries (e.g. Italy) than in others (e.g. Estonia). Ageing is even more marked in the central governments of OECD countries, where the ratio of government workers aged 50 years or older is on average 26% higher than in the total labour force. Indeed, in all but four OECD member countries (Japan, Estonia, Chile and Korea) central government workforces have a higher ratio of workers 50 years or older than in the total labour force. The difference is the most pronounced in Italy and Belgium.
    • Special feature: Public workforce restructuring
      Achieving the most efficient and effective size and allocation of the public service workforce is an ongoing challenge for OECD member countries, where the compensation of government employees represented about 24% of general government expenditures in 2009 (see Indicator 8). Today, this challenge is exacerbated by a confluence of factors which include the fiscal pressures following the economic crisis, but also new public service demands resulting from population ageing and the possibilities offered by information and communications technologies. To face these challenges, careful workforce planning and strategic human resources management reforms help to ensure that governments continue to deliver quality public services while responding to the need to reduce or maintain budgets.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Compensation in Selected Public Sector Occupations

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    • Teachers' salaries
      Teachers are the backbone of the education sector and their salaries represent the single largest cost item in education expenditures. Salaries and working conditions play an important role in attracting, motivating and retaining skilled teachers. In many OECD countries, salaries of teachers are set centrally, often through collective bargaining.
    • Doctors' and nurses' salaries
      Compensation levels are among the factors affecting the attractiveness of different professions in the health sector and the job satisfaction of incumbents. They also have a direct impact on health care costs, as wages represent one of the main spending items in health systems.
    • Compensation of senior management in central government
      Due to their smaller numbers, the total compensation costs of senior management are relatively insignificant in the context of total government spending. Nevertheless, their levels of compensation are considered crucial for attracting and keeping talent for positions with high levels of responsibility in government. Compensation in these positions has an important symbolic value as they are usually at the top salary scales, and concern staff whose appointment tends to be more discretionary (see Indicators 17 and 18).
    • Compensation of middle management in central government
      Middle managers are located between senior management and professionals in the central government workforce hierarchy. D4 managers are directly below the D3 Level. A detailed description of their responsibilities and the various categories of middle managers are contained in Annex D. Data presented for middle managers are fully adjusted for differences in working time, including weekly hours and holidays.
    • Compensation of professionals in central government
      Professionals are a key employee group in central government Ministries and Departments that are represented in the data by two subgroups: economists and statisticians. Economists’ and statisticians’ research and analytical skills are key to improving governments’ ability to take decisions based on evidence. The detailed responsibilities of these positions are described in Annex D.
    • Compensation of secretarial staff in central government
      Among the different central government occupations, the remuneration of staff in executive assistant and secretarial positions seems to vary the least across OECD member countries. Executive assistants may supervise the work of secretaries and generally have more responsibility. Annex D provides a detailed description of these positions.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Human Resources Management Practices

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    • Delegation in human resources management
      Many OECD countries are moving towards a model of human resources management (HRM) whereby major decisions regarding employee selection, recruitment, remuneration, working conditions and dismissal are delegated from a centralised HRM body to line Ministries/Departments/ Agencies. The key motive behind delegation is to empower and enable public managers to better direct their staff, allowing them to consider in their HRM decisions both the unique requirements of their own organisations and the merits of individual employees. As HRM authority is delegated, the role of the central HRM body is also changing to one of setting minimum standards and formulating HRM policies rather than implementing them.
    • Staff performance management
      Over the past two decades, the majority of OECD member countries have implemented reforms to modernise their public administrations with the aim of increasing efficiency and quality in service delivery. A cornerstone of these reforms has been the implementation of performance-oriented management of public sector organisations. As such, the use of performance assessments for individual staff, work groups and at the organisational level has been rolled out in order to strengthen incentives to improve performance. When used properly, performance assessments allow for the recognition of individual and collective efforts in an objective and transparent manner. Such practices also function to clarify organisational goals for staff so that they gain a better understanding of their role within the organisation and therefore how to best implement change and contribute towards strategic organisational objectives.
    • Industrial relations in central government
      Industrial relations refer to the relationship between unions and employers, and have the goal of including employee representatives in the decision making process on workforce policies. Unions are involved to varying degrees in HRM decisions on compensation elements, working conditions, statutory employment provisions, code of conduct, right to strike, introduction of new management tools and government restructuring. In the wake of the economic crisis, good industrial relations between civil servants and governments are a particularly useful asset in terms of facilitating sustainable solutions to adapt workforce conditions and organisations to the changing social and economic environment. Well managed, healthy industrial relations are also useful in anticipating future changes and reducing associated costs of reforms.
    • Working conditions in central government
      The special staff arrangements and employment conditions for core government employees are at the heart of the state’s relationship to its employees and they are often firmly rooted in national tradition and administrative culture. As such, employment conditions and human resources systems such as recruitment procedures, career development, pay systems and social security benefits have traditionally been rather different in the public and private sectors in many countries. Until recently, some of the working conditions such as working hours and employee benefits tended to be more attractive in the public service than in the private sector in many countries. They remain an important part of the overall remuneration package of employees today and a tool for attracting qualified staff to government employment.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Transparency in Governance

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    • Legislative capacity to ensure transparency in the budget process
      Legislatures’ budgetary oversight function contributes to transparency and public financial accountability. The presentation of the budget and related documentation in the legislature is normally the first opportunity for public scrutiny of the government’s spending priorities. Legislative debate in both the plenary and committees facilitates public participation in the budget process.
    • Scope of freedom of information laws
      Freedom of information laws (FOI) – also referred to as access to information laws – are a fundamental pillar of open government. These laws contribute to strengthening transparency, enhancing government accountability and promoting informed participation in policy making. Today, all but one of the countries responding to the OECD 2010 Open Government Survey has FOI legislation/regulations. However, the strength and scope of these laws varies considerably in terms of the institutions and types of information covered, reflecting different institutional and legal systems across countries.
    • Ease of filing a request for public information
      The possibility for individuals to exercise their right to information depends on (among other factors) the degree of accessibility of freedom of information laws (FOI), the ease of filing requests and individual protection granted to those requesting information. Narrow eligibility conditions to file a request, long response times or unjustifiably high fees are a few factors that can limit or undermine the right to know.
    • Proactive disclosure of information
      The principle of proactive disclosure (i.e. that information must be publicly available prior to public request) is instrumental in achieving greater transparency and openness in government. Proactive disclosure (also known as "affirmative publication") ensures that information seekers get immediate access to public information and avoid the costs of filing a request or engaging in administrative procedures. For public organisations, proactive disclosure can reduce the burden of complying with FOI requests.
    • Conflict-of-interest disclosure by top decision makers
      Ensuring that the integrity of government decision making is not compromised by conflicts of interest is key to maintaining trust in government. A conflict of interest arises when a public official’s private interests could improperly influence the performance of official duties. If not adequately identified and managed, conflict-of-interest situations can lead to corruption.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Public Procurement

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    • Size of public procurement market
      Public procurement (the purchase by governments and state-owned enterprises of goods, services and works) accounts for a significant percentage of GDP and has a direct impact on the economy. Obtaining more accurate and comprehensive information about one of governments’ largest spending processes, therefore, is key to improving the quality of government services, better allocating resources and providing greater value for taxpayers’ money.
    • Transparency in public procurement
      In public procurement, the financial interests at stake, the volume of transactions, and the close interaction between the public and the private sectors create multiple opportunities for private gain and waste at the expense of taxpayers. Providing an adequate degree of transparency throughout the entire public procurement cycle is critical to minimising the risk of fraud, corruption and mismanagement of public funds, and to levelling the playing field for businesses thereby promoting competition. The accessibility of information, stakeholder participation in key stages of the procurement cycle, and the possibility of review and remedy in case of dispute are essential to transparency and accountability in public procurement.
    • E-procurement
      E-procurement, the use of information and communication technologies in public procurement, facilitates access to public tenders and increases competition. It also improves the transparency of the procurement cycle, empowering citizens and businesses to hold public authorities more accountable. In addition, the use of information technologies in public procurement can decrease administrative burdens and reduce costs for both governments and businesses. Electronic channels can also lead to a shorter order cycle and increase compliance levels, helping – potentially – to lower prices.
    • Special feature
      OECD member countries are increasingly taking greater account of environmental sustainability in public procurement. Through green procurement, member countries make an important contribution to sustainable consumption and production. However, despite green policies being front and centre, less than half of OECD member countries have not established a standard definition for green procurement. Only six countries (Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg and Slovenia) incorporate a definition in the law, while the majority of the countries that have defined green procurement have done so in an environmental policy or strategy document.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Regulatory Governance

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    • Regulatory institutional frameworks and oversight
      Regulatory institutions play an important role in delivering regulatory policy and ensuring the quality of regulations. Regulatory oversight bodies located at the centre of government monitor the progress of regulatory policy from a whole-of-government perspective. These bodies advocate the consistent application of regulatory policy across government, often challenging the merits of regulatory proposals from line Ministries. External advisory bodies can give further impetus to the regulatory reform process. They receive reference from the government to review broad areas of regulation, collecting the views of citizens and businesses.
    • Improving the transparency of regulations
      Increased transparency is a goal of the 2005 OECD Guiding Principles for Regulatory Quality and Performance. Transparency in communication and open access to regulations promotes government accountability and sustains confidence in the legal environment, which in turn fosters a business-friendly environment and helps build trust in government institutions. Indeed, a country’s regulations contain much information about how a society is organised, i.e. about the rules of the game and the political decisions taken. If citizens and businesses can readily access and understand regulations, it is more likely that they will participate in the legislative process and comply with the rules. Furthermore, the easier it is for foreign nationals to understand a country’s regulations, the easier trade and investment becomes.
    • Preparing for effective compliance and enforcement of regulations
      How regulations are designed is important. Poorly designed regulations are difficult to comply with by businesses and citizens, and are costly to enforce. Good regulatory design depends on regulators anticipating and preparing for compliance and enforcement issues when evaluating the potential impact of draft regulations. A well functioning ex ante impact assessment process, therefore, includes an assessment of likely compliance by business and citizens, and of the ease and costs of enforcement. Evaluating this aspect of regulation also contributes to the underlying policy goals. Early analysis can help anticipate and prevent the conditions for corruption, wilful failures to observe the law and the growth of an informal economy.
    • Evaluating regulatory performance
      Evaluation is core to evidence-based and accountable policy making. It helps to ensure that the policy aims of regulations are met, while maximising benefits and minimising costs. Regulatory impact analysis (RIA) is a systematic policy tool used to examine and measure the likely benefits, costs and effects of new or existing regulation. If undertaken ex ante, RIA assists decision makers to choose among the best alternative policy options. Conducted ex post, RIA helps to identify whether existing regulations should be revised. Cost-benefit analysis informs both the ex ante and ex post evaluation of a regulation and its alternatives. Consideration is best given early in the policy cycle to the criteria for ex post evaluation, including whether the objectives of the regulation are clear and what data will be used to measure performance, as well as the allocation of institutional responsibilities for review and evaluation.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Ways of Delivering Public Services

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    • Government outsourcing
      Governments have turned to outsourcing as a way of accessing external expertise and delivering services more cost-effectively. Government outsourcing is measured as the size of expenditures on goods and services purchased by central, state and local governments. The level of total government outsourcing shows the role of governments in creating demand and, indirectly, employment in the nongovernment sector.
    • Uptake of e-government services
      Citizens and businesses increasingly prefer and use digital channels to interact with governments. The online provision of public services increases access and provides greater convenience for users, while reducing costs for all involved, including governments. For these reasons, governments around the world invest significant resources in the delivery of online services, particularly in the current context of fiscal austerity when they are trying to do more with less. Ensuring the cost-effectiveness of these investments relies heavily on the uptake of e-government services by citizens and businesses.
    • Special feature
      Volunteer community groups partnering with local police to increase safety in their neighbourhoods; patients with chronic illnesses taking control over their health with the support of health-care professionals; young parents using online social networks supported by social workers to get guidance and share advice regarding their children’s upbringing. These are all examples of user-centred collaborative approaches in service delivery (also referred to as "co-production") where citizens or service users design, commission, deliver or evaluate a public service in partnership with service professionals. In co-production, because at times users may take responsibility over the initiative for service development, the line between service delivery and policy making can be sometimes blurred.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Government Performance Indicators from Selected Sectors

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    • Greater fairness through selected government policies
      One important responsibility of governments is ensuring that the benefits of economic growth and development are shared across society. Income inequality in the population increased in almost two-thirds of OECD countries between the mid-1980s and mid-2000s. There is no agreement, however, on how much equality or inequality in income distribution is "optimal". Complete equality in the distribution of economic resources is neither attainable nor beneficial in terms of economic growth, and non-market mechanisms for income redistribution can reduce incentives to work and save. On the other hand, more unequal countries generally have higher poverty rates and worse aggregate educational and health outcomes, and higher levels of inequality can threaten long-term growth prospects.
    • Equity in access to education
      The long-term social and financial costs of educational inequalities can be high, as those without the competencies to participate in society fully may not realise their potential and they are likely to generate higher costs for health, income support, child welfare and security. For these reasons, governments have a vested interest in reducing disparities in access to education, including those based on geography (e.g. distance) or socio-economic status.
    • Education outputs
      Education systems are integral to ensuring that countries have a strong, skilled workforce and an active citizenry to engage in democratic governance. Graduation rates and levels of educational attainment provide good measures of what education systems are producing.
    • Education outcomes
      Key outcomes of education systems include increasing employment and raising the life-long earnings of individuals – which also brings net benefits for governments via increases in the revenue-base and lower public spending on unemployment insurance or other social assistance programmes.
    • Equity in access to health care
      Reducing inequalities in access to health care remains an important policy goal for governments, regardless of different health care systems’ designs. Most OECD governments seek to reduce potential barriers to access to health care which can be financial; geographic; racial; cultural and informational; or time-related.
    • Health outputs and output-based efficiency measures
      Health output indicators provide information on the quantity of goods and services provided by health care systems. When considered together with input indicators, they can provide some measures of productivity or efficiency in health care delivery. Key indicators of health care activities include doctor consultations, the occupancy rates of hospital beds and the average length of stay in hospitals.
    • Health outcomes and expenditures
      A key policy challenge for governments is to improve health outcomes (such as life expectancy) while containing cost pressures in health care provision. This is particularly important given that the public sector is the main source of health financing in OECD countries and public spending on health care is one the largest government expenditure items, representing on average 6% of GDP. Furthermore, with ageing populations, cost pressures are expected to increase in the near future.
    • Efficiency of tax administrations
      Government activities, including the provision of public services, rely on taxes collected from citizens and businesses. Government tax administrations perform the important functions of interpreting tax legislation; collecting various taxes and social security contributions; and enforcing tax laws.
    • Glossary
    • Bibliography
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Annexes

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    • Methodology for Revenue Aggregates
    • Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG)
      Developed by the OECD, the Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) classifies government expenditure data from the System of National Accounts by the purpose for which the funds are used. As Table B.1 illustrates, first-level COFOG splits expenditure data into ten "functional" groups or sub-sectors of expenditures (such as defence, education and social protection), and second-level COFOG further splits each first-level group into up to nine sub-groups.
    • Fiscal Consolidation Model Assumptions
      This annex provides information regarding the assumptions underlying the model utilised to calculate the estimated fiscal consolidation efforts required by governments to stabilise and reduce public debt as a ratio of GDP by 2026. The model estimates the fiscal consolidation efforts required to stabilise or reduce gross debt-to-GDP ratios. The size of these efforts may differ in terms of net debt-to-GDP ratios. The assumptions underpin the data presented in Indicator 15 of Chapter IV (Strategic Foresight and Leadership). Data for Indicator 15, as well as the information presented here, are drawn from the Preliminary Version of the OECD Economic Outlook, No. 89 released in May 2011 and are subject to revision in future Outlook publications.
    • Methodology and Additional Notes on Compensation of Government Employees
      The Survey on Compensation of Government Employees aims to collect information on the annual compensation of employees for a sample of occupations in central/federal/ national government. The purpose is to build a database on remuneration levels for typical positions in central government in core and key sectoral Ministries that will contribute to a better understanding of the salary structures and pay levels in the central governments in OECD countries.
    • Composite Indexes for Human Resources Management Practices
      The composite indexes presented in Government at a Glance summarise discrete, qualitative information on key aspects of human resources management (HRM) practices. Composite indexes are developed and utilised because they can often help examine trends and findings as opposed to assessing several variables individually. However, their interpretation should be made with caution, and only after understanding what they are meant to measure and how they are generated.
    • Detailed Data on Conflict-of-Interest Disclosure from the 2010 OECD Survey on Integrity
      This annex provides data for each responding country on the types of private interests that they require central government decision makers to disclose as well as the level of transparency of these disclosures. The data underlie the summary of data presented in Figure 39.1 and 39.2.
    • Detailed Data from the 2010 OECD Survey on Public Procurement
      This annex provides data for each responding country on the transparency of the public procurement cycle, as well as the online availability of public procurement information and the central government review and remedy mechanisms available for bidders. The data underlie the summaries of data presented in Chapter IX, specifically, for Indicators 41 and 42.
    • Contextual Factors
      This annex provides data on administrative and institutional features of each country, including: the composition and electoral system of the legislature, the structure of the executive branch, the division of power between one central and several regional or local governments, and key characteristics of the judicial system. It also provides basic data on population and GDP for 2009. Compared to Government at a Glance 2009, this annex includes data for the Russian Federation (currently in the process of accession to the OECD) and Brazil. It also provides data on the number of municipalities, provinces, states and/or regions.
    • Members of the Steering Group
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