Government at a Glance

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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 as well as government revenues and expenditures, employment, and compensation. It also includes indicators describing government policies and practices on integrity, e-government and open government, and introduces 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.
Also available in: French
Government at a Glance 2015

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06 July 2015
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9789264234949 (HTML) ; 9789264233478 (PDF) ; 9789264239180 (EPUB) ; 9789264233461 (print)

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Government at a Glance provides readers with a dashboard of key indicators assembled with the goal of contributing to the analysis and international comparison of public sector performance. Indicators on government revenues, expenditures, and employment are provided alongside key output and outcome data in the sectors of education, health and justice. Government at a Glance also includes indicators on key governance and public management issues, such as transparency in governance, regulatory governance, public procurement and the implementation of employment and remuneration reforms since 2008. While measuring government performance has long been recognized as playing an important role in increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the public administration, following the economic crisis and fiscal tightening in many member countries, good indicators are needed more than ever to help governments make informed decisions regarding tough choices and help restore confidence in government institutions.

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  • Foreword

    In this post-crisis period, governments in OECD countries continue to play an active role in the economy while undertaking major reforms to increase value for money and improve the access and quality of public services. The set of indicators presented in Government at a Glance 2015 provides countries with solid evidence to support the design and implementation of public sector reforms and good practices. It presents indicators on the entire production chain of government, including resources (financial and human), practices and procedures and key trends in performance and results. The opening chapter offers some general policy insights emerging from the data presented in the publication. This edition focuses on the role of governments in fostering inclusive growth and a more inclusive society.

  • Governance at a Critical Time for Public Policies

    This fourth edition of Government at a Glace offers a comprehensive panorama of the capacities and performance of government in OECD countries and key partners at a moment when many are grappling with huge economic challenges and painful trade-offs. Ambitious goals contrast with the reality of a recovery that is still fragile in many places. Reforms and other essential programmes must proceed in a context of limited public investment. At the same time, societies have to urgently confront long-term challenges, including sustainability and climate change. Rising inequality is also excluding large segments of society from the benefits of growth and is constraining the return to full economic potential. The fact that trust in public institutions is strained does not make the task easier.

  • Executive summary

    The recovery is under way and economic growth is slowly starting to pick up in the OECD area. Fiscal consolidation is proceeding, although unemployment remains high, while productivity growth has been low. Inequalities, in the distribution of income and other outcomes that matter for people’s well-being, are also widening. Governments must address these challenges to deliver stronger, more inclusive growth in the years to come; a multidimensional approach to public policy making is needed.

  • Reader's guide

    In order to accurately interpret the data included in Government at a Glance 2015, readers need to be familiar with the following methodological considerations that cut across a number of indicators. The standard format for the presentation of indicators is on two pages. The first page contains text that explains the relevance of the topic and highlights some of the major differences observed across OECD countries. It is followed by a Methodology and definitions section, which describes the data sources and provides important information necessary to interpret the data. Closing the first page is the Further reading section, which lists useful background literature providing context to the data displayed. The second page showcases the data. These figures show current levels and, where possible, trends over time. A glossary of the main definitions of the publication can be found in the final chapter of the book.

  • Introduction

    The main objective of the Government at a Glance series is to provide reliable, internationally comparative data on government activities and their results in OECD countries and beyond. In turn, these data can be used by countries to benchmark their governments’ performance, to track their own and international developments over time and to provide evidence to their public policy making.

  • Inclusive government for a more inclusive society

    Inclusive growth is crucial not only for a fairer society but also for a stronger economy. Income gaps between rich and the poor have widened, and these inequalities undermine economic growth and strain the relationship between government and citizens. Countries are searching for new ways to improve living standards, while sharing the benefits of growth more evenly across all groups in society. In responding to the challenge of inclusive growth, the public sector has an important role to play, with respect to the inclusiveness of the public sector itself, the inclusiveness of policy-making processes, and the inclusiveness of the outcomes that governments seek to promote.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Public finance and economics

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    • General government fiscal balance

      Governments spend money in order perform their activities, and the required financial resources to cover government expenditures are obtained through the collection of taxes or by contracting debt. The fiscal balance is the difference between government revenues and spending. If in a given year, a government receives more than it spends, a surplus occurs. Conversely, when the government spends more than it receives in revenues, there is a deficit. Consecutive deficits will lead to mounting debt levels and consequently higher payments of interest. The primary balance that is the balance before interest payments signals the capacity of governments to honour debt without the need for further indebtedness.

    • General government net saving

      General government net saving is the difference between current revenues and current expenditures. In other words, it corresponds to the fiscal balance excluding capital expenditures; therefore it does not take into account investment expenditures or capital transfers (e.g. transfers to rescue financial institutions). More generally, government net saving is typically associated with the Golden Rule concept, namely that government current revenues should, on average, cover current expenditures in the course of an economic cycle. Having consistent negative savings may thus indicate a situation of unsustainable government finances.

    • General government structural balance

      The structural or underlying fiscal balance is the difference between government revenues and expenditures corrected by the effects that could be attributed to the economic cycle and one off events. This indicator aims to capture structural trends in order to assess whether the fiscal policy of a country is expansionary, neutral or restrictive for a given period. In fact, government revenues and expenditures are highly sensitive to economic developments. For example, during an economic downturn, cyclical deficits result in lower revenues while at the same time public spending increase as higher unemployment determine additional spending on unemployment benefits. In consequence, eliminating the fluctuations occurred in the economies enable policy makers to identify the underlying trend of fiscal policies that are associated with the sustainability of public finances in the long run.

    • General government gross debt

      Governments accumulate debt to finance expenditures above their revenues. As a result of the crisis, many OECD countries raised spending via stimulus packages and interventions to support financial institutions, therefore incurring public debt. In many OECD countries revenue collections also decreased, adding pressure to public finances.

    • Financial net worth of general government

      The analysis of the difference between the financial assets and liabilities held by governments (also known as financial net worth or as a broad description of net government debt), gives an extensive measure of the government’s capacity to meet its financial obligations. While the assets reflect a source of additional funding and income available to government, liabilities reflect the debts accumulated by government. Thus, a consistent increase in the government’s financial net worth over time indicates good financial health. Conversely, net worth may be depleted by debts accumulated by government, indicating a worsening of fiscal position and ultimately forcing governments to either cut spending or raise taxes.

    • Fiscal balance and debt by level of government

      Fiscal balance for a given level of government (from national to local) is achieved when expenditures and revenues are balanced. The situation where revenues exceed expenses (positive balance) is called a surplus. On the contrary, a negative balance is called a deficit. While balances are consolidated across all levels of government, depending on the political and administrative structure, central and sub-central governments share different degrees of fiscal sovereignty. For example in federal countries, states have higher autonomy to contract debt and levy taxes. The general government debt (across all levels of government) might be affected by modest changes in debt by a large number of sub-central governments. Liabilities from sub-central governments resulting from the need to finance deficits through borrowing are considered as debt of the sub-central governments. However, the capacity of sub-central governments to incur debt is often limited since they are usually subject to tight fiscal rules.

    • General government revenues

      Revenues raised by governments are used to finance the provision of goods and services and carry out a redistributive role. The main two sources of government revenues are taxes and social contributions. The amount of revenues raised by governments is related to the economic fluctuations associated to the business cycle as well as historical and current policy choices. For example, governments could choose to provide pensions directly, or allow the provision of retirement benefits by private providers. Their decision will affect how much government revenue they need to raise and by which instrument (e.g. taxes or social contributions). While for a certain period of time additional revenue requirements could be financed by acquiring debt, in the long run, revenues and expenditures should be balanced to guarantee the sustainability of public finances.

    • Structure of general government revenues

      In 2013, taxes represented the largest share (on average 58.5%) of government revenues across OECD countries, around, one quarter were collected through net social contributions, while the remainder were for grants and other revenues. However, OECD countries finance their public expenditures in different ways. For example, Denmark and Australia are relatively more dependent on taxes (over 80%% of total revenues). In contrast, Japan and Germany relied relatively more on net social contributions (above 37%) while in Mexico and Norway grants and other revenues exceeded 25% of total revenues, in both cases mostly associated with earnings derived from oil resources.

    • Revenue structure by level of government

      Revenues are collected differently across central, state and local governments as they differ in terms of their ability to levy taxes and collect social contributions. The amount of taxes collected by sub-central governments provides a proxy of their autonomous fiscal capacity, while the volume of the revenue transfers between levels of government can be considered a proxy of the fiscal interdependence. However, revenues include both own-source taxes and shared taxes and for these latter, there is no autonomous fiscal capacity. Limits on sub-central governments’ ability to set their own local tax bases, rates and reliefs reduce their power to generate their own revenue sources and potentially their ability to provide more tailored public goods and services.

    • General government expenditures

      Public expenditures have two main objectives: produce and/or pay for the goods and services delivered to citizens and businesses, and redistribute income. In addition, the amount of financial resources spent by governments provides an indication on the size of the public sector. Although government expenditures are usually less flexible than government revenues they are also sensitive to economic developments associated with the business cycle and reflect historical and current political decisions. For example, governments could choose to transfer resources via subsidies and grants or provide support by lowering tax rates to a given economic sector or a group within the society.

    • Structure of general government expenditures by function (COFOG)

      The breakdown of governments’ expenditures by function and its evolution over time reflect the main priorities and challenges of governments. Higher debt burden, high and rising unemployment, the impact of ageing population, but also common goals set by regional agreements (such as in OECD-EU countries) on energy, infrastructure and research and development programmes are all reflected in the structure of governments’ expenditures.

    • Structure of general government expenditures by economic transaction

      Government expenditures go beyond production related expenditures. In a government budget perspective, economic transactions such as gross capital formation, social benefit payments, interest payments generated by the public debt and subsidies are also included determining the total government expenditures. All these transactions together have the advantage of better capturing on what government spends taxpayers’ money and also its ability to stimulate the demand.

    • Expenditures structure by level of government

      Governments are traditionally responsible for the provision of public goods and services (e.g. education and health care) as well as for the redistribution of income (e.g. social benefits and subsidies). Furthermore, the responsibility for financing these tasks is shared between different levels of government. The need to improve the quality and efficiency of government spending has confirmed sub-central governments as important players in the implementation of public policies. Indeed, sub-central governments could be considered better equipped than central governments to obtain information on local needs and better placed to tailor the provision of public services.

    • Government investment spending

      Governments have various tools to promote economic growth and societal well-being. Government undertakes long-term investments in public infrastructures as well as research and development that can contribute to balancing the economic cycles, create new jobs and enhance productivity by applying counter-cyclical policies).

    • Production costs and outsourcing of general government

      Governments use a mix of their own employees, capital and outside contractors to produce goods and services. Production costs are computed as the share of government expenditures dedicated to the production of goods and services. While some governments choose to outsource the production of most goods and services, others produce the goods and services themselves. Outsourcing can take place in two ways. Governments can either purchase goods and services to be used as inputs, or they can pay a non-profit or private entity to provide the goods and services directly to the end user.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Public employment

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    • Employment in the public sector

      Governments across the OECD perform a wide range of functions, all of which depend on a dedicated and skilled public sector workforce. The large differences in the relative sizes of public sector employment across the OECD reflect the equally large variety of activities undertaken by governments and the ways they deliver public services. Services can be delivered in large part by government employees or through a range of partnerships with the private or not-for-profit sectors. In some countries, the large majority of health care providers, teachers and emergency workers, for example, are directly employed by the government. In other countries alternative delivery mechanisms mean that many of these professionals are employed by organisations that are not state-owned, or as private contractors. The use of outsourcing, the relative size and structure of the voluntary, charitable and/or not-for-profit sectors and the availability of private sector providers, all determine their use of public sector employment.

    • Women in public sector employment

      Equal representation of women in public sector employment helps achieve fairness, openness and representativeness. It also improves the quality of service delivery through a better understanding of the citizenry. In the OECD countries for which data are available, women represented, on average, 58% of the total public sector workforce in 2013 going from more than 70% in Sweden to 42% in Japan. Japan reported establishing targets for women at the sectoral level in areas where women are under--represented. On average in OECD countries, women are more represented in the public sector (58.2%) as compared to the whole economy where women employment as a share of the total employment reached only 45.3%. It is important to note that the data don’t demonstrate the extent to which women hold managerial leadership positions within the public sector.

    • Women in politics

      In many OECD countries, increasing the number of women in parliament and the number of women appointed to ministerial positions is an important objective. Greater gender balance amongst politicians can improve the quality and responsiveness of public policy by focusing attention on issues such as equal pay, work-life balance and gender violence. Gender-sensitive parliaments can also improve governments’ efforts in effectively implementing gender equality and mainstreaming strategies, as parliamentary committees may also serve as important independent oversight and accountability mechanisms. Yet women still face a glass ceiling blocking their full participation in political life in the legislature and political executive, and remain generally under-represented in politics (OECD, 2014).

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Institutions

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    • Main institutional features of the centres of government in OECD countries

      The centre of government (CoG), also known as Chancellery, Cabinet Office, Office of the President, Presidencia, White House Executive Office, Privy Council, Casa Civil, among others, is a support structure of a government. Its main objective is to ensure evidence-based, strategic and consistent policy implementation by a government. The structure of the CoG reflects, on the one hand, constitutional and legal requirements, which provide some architectural anchoring, and, on the other, an ability to be highly adaptable to the needs, preferences and personality of the head of government of the moment. To be effective, the CoG needs to be small enough to react rapidly to changing events; as it grows, it risks losing flexibility and becoming unwieldy. At the same time, recent experience suggests that too small could mean too little capacity, which, in turn, endangers the ability to the CoG to provide impartial, authoritative advice and support.

    • Roles of the centres of government

      Each country’s centre of government (CoG) is a product of diverse historical, cultural and political forces and has developed incrementally over time. Despite this heterogeneity, strong similarities emerge with respect to the functions that the centre of government performs. CoGs have been traditionally responsible for serving the head of government and cabinet; however they are increasingly expected to combine their traditional role with a more active role in other functions such as policy development, co-ordination, implementation and monitoring mechanisms, which require a higher level of integration and co-ordination with other government departments and -agencies.

    • Degree of influence of the centres of government

      Centres of government (CoGs) are currently taking a more active role to align multi-department workplans to government actions. This more active role for the centre of government across the policy cycle suggests the need for new co-ordination and monitoring tools. Rather than organising policy discussions, the CoG has to be able to set agendas and work with other government institutions, including with respect to human and financial resources. However, this horizontal co-ordination process managed by the CoG could be even broader in terms of scope and participation. While policy co-ordination within the administration is a key focus for the CoG, the evolution of modern government means that the CoG is becoming more involved with actors outside the executive branch. Effective working at the international level is an increasingly important aspect of good governance at the domestic level and comes increasingly into the sphere of the CoG.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Budgeting practices and procedures

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    • Special feature: The fiscal sustainability challenge of health systems

      Health is the second largest government spending area; moreover according to recent research (OECD, 2010), in the first decade of the 21st century the growth of health spending has consistently outpaced economic growth in most OECD countries. Most governments in OECD countries are currently faced with consolidation pressures and the need to create room for additional spending without jeopardizing the sustainability of their fiscal position or the stability of the economy (fiscal space). In this context, many countries face the challenging task of financing more health expenditure while trying to meet their fiscal objectives.

    • Performance-related budgeting and supreme audit institutions

      Against the background of an increasingly complex governance environment, limited fiscal space, and growing demands for transparency and accountability, governments are continually challenged to demonstrate better performance and management of available resources. Supreme audit institutions (SAIs) have also moved from a more traditional focus on financial audits to looking at aspects of performance or value for money. Indeed the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) posits that performance auditing greatly enriches public accountability and enables the SAI to make practical contributions to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the public administration (INTOSAI, 2010). As such, SAIs have the potential to contribute to better design and use of performance-related budgeting and management systems and to enhance public accountability in OECD countries.

    • Cost benefit analysis of investment projects

      Governments are faced with budget constraints and therefore should invest in those projects that represent the greatest benefits compared to costs. In addition, the presence of market failures, which are situations in which markets left on their own would produce inefficient results (e.g. monopolies), are commonly addressed by government intervention. Regardless of whether a project is carried out by traditional public provision, public-private partnerships, or others, its economic appraisal remains the responsibility of government. Cost benefit analysis (CBA) is a methodology with a long intellectual and practical history for estimating the ex ante desirability of a project. It is designed to demonstrate whether or not the long-term social benefits of a project are greater than its costs. In practice, it estimates the opportunity cost or benefit of goods and services and uses these accounting prices (or shadow prices) as a more appropriate signal than observed market prices, which may be distorted by a variety of reasons. Performance indicators are then computed; typically, a positive net present value of benefits over costs is required in order to conclude that ex ante a project is socially desirable.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Human resource management

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    • Special feature: Compensation reforms since 2008

      Compensation reforms are used to alter the size and structure of pay and benefits packages for the public sector workforce and have a direct impact on the overall cost of government. The 2008 financial crisis presented a dual challenge for most OECD governments: how to restore financial sustainability while also maintaining high quality service delivery in times of rising demand. Given that employee compensation accounts for 45.6% of OECD countries’ production costs, compensations reforms have been a -common response to these challenges. Significant reforms to employees’ compensation packages can be difficult to undertake, as they often involve union negotiations and other legal and political complexities. Additionally, when compensation reductions are implemented, they can have negative repercussions on worker motivation, which can undermine productivity and efficiency.

    • Special feature: Employment reforms in central government since 2008

      Employment reforms alter the size and composition of the public sector workforce to ensure alignment with strategic objectives and financial sustainability. Given that a significant percentage of OECD countries’ finances are spent on their employees, employment reforms can have an impact on the overall cost of government. Between 2008 and 2013 many OECD countries undertook numerous employment reforms, often as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, in an attempt to restore financial sustainability while trying to maintain service delivery standards and meet rising demand. Large-scale employment reforms can be difficult to undertake, particularly when they involve high levels of downsizing over short periods of time. Conversely, countries that do not take an active role in controlling the size of their public services risk growing public employment to levels that are fiscally unsustainable.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Public sector integrity

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    • Managing conflict of interest: Pre- and post-public employment

      Increased mobility between the public and private sector – revolving door phenomenon – has raised public and governmental concerns of impropriety which can affect trust in public service. At the same time, it is also in the interest of the public and government to attract experienced and skilled workforce to serve the public interest. In this regard, conflict of interest situations should be appropriately and adequately identified and managed to ensure sound democratic governance. An excessively strict approach could result not only in bureaucratic inefficiency but also in discouraging the employment of potential skilled and competent workers in the public sector.

    • Asset disclosure

      Fairness and impartiality are expected of public servants in fulfilling their fundamental mission to serve the public interest. Public officials’ conflicts of interest pose a threat to public trust. In this context, assuring transparency and accountability of public officials in their decision-making process is key to restoring trust in the government.

    • Transparency and integrity in lobbying

      Lobbying is a fact of public life in all countries. It has the potential to promote democratic participation and can provide decision makers with valuable insights, as well as facilitate stakeholder access to public policy development and implementation. Yet, lobbying is often perceived as an opaque activity of dubious integrity, which may result in undue influence by special interests, unfair competition and regulatory capture at the expense of fair, impartial and effective policy making. There is evidence of an emerging consensus on the need for transparency. While by 2014 only 15 OECD countries have introduced lobbying regulations to this effect, there is a clear acceleration in this sense as 11 countries have done so in the last decade.

    • Whistleblower protection

      The protection of employees who disclose wrongdoing, in the context of their workplace (whistleblowers), is at the core of an organisation’s integrity framework. In governments, it is recognised as an essential element for safeguarding the public interest, promoting a culture of public accountability, and in many countries is proving crucial in the reporting of misconduct, fraud and corruption.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Regulatory governance

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    • Global trends in regulatory policy and governance

      Regulatory policy refers to the set of rules, procedures and institutions introduced by government for the express purpose of developing, administering and reviewing regulation (both primary and subordinate). OECD member countries have acknowledged the critical importance of regulatory policy and made substancial efforts to ensure that regulations are of high quality and fit-for-purpose. The financial and economic crisis of 2008 has reinforced the need and highlighted the importance of a well-functioning regulatory framework for transparent and efficient markets with the right incentives. Fair, transparent and clear regulatory frameworks serve also as a sine qua non basic condition for dealing effectively with environmental and social challenges in a society. Good regulatory practices and institutions can also help address global challenges and harness globalisation through more coherent and shared rules.

    • Stakeholder engagement

      The central objective of regulatory policy is to ensure that regulations are designed and implemented in the public interest. It can only be achieved with help from those concerned: citizens, businesses, civil society, public sector organisations, etc. The 2012 OECD Recommendation on Regulatory Policy and Governance recommends that governments actively engage … all relevant stakeholders during the regulation-making process and design … consultation processes to maximise the quality of the information received and its effectiveness (OECD, forthcoming). OECD member countries acknowledge the importance of listening to the voice of users, who need to be part of the regulatory development process. Moreover, stakeholder engagement is commonly considered as a key element of an open government policy.

    • Regulatory Impact Analysis

      Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) is the systematic process of identification and quantification of benefits and costs likely to flow from regulatory or non-regulatory options for a policy under consideration. Countries apply a variety of analytic techniques as part of the RIA process, including cost-benefit analysis, cost-effective analysis, and multi--criteria analysis. RIA represents a core tool for ensuring the quality of new regulations through an evidence-based process for decision making. A well-functioning RIA system can assist in promoting policy coherence by making transparent the trade-offs inherent in regulatory proposals. RIA improves the use of evidence in policy making and reduces the incidence of regulatory failure arising from regulating when there is no case for doing so, or failing to regulate when there is a clear need. The process fosters integrity and trust in the regulation-making system through levers of transparency and accountability by disclosing the development process of the regulation. Yet, despite being one of the tools most widely adopted internationally as part of regulatory policy, effective implementation of RIA remains elusive in many cases. This is evidenced, for instance, by the existing gap between the legal mandate to conduct RIA and its actual practice and the limited number of countries that ensure that regulations guarantee a net benefit to society ().

    • Ex post evaluation of regulation

      The evaluation of existing laws and regulations through ex post impact analysis is necessary to ensure that they are effective and efficient. In the absence of a systematic review process, the overall burden of complying with regulations tends to increase over time. This complicates the daily life of citizens and impedes the efficient functioning of business. Ex post evaluation can be the final stage of the regulatory policy cycle, evaluating the extent to which regulations met the goals they were designed for. It can also be the initial point to understand the impacts, shortcomings and advantages of a policy or regulation in place, and to provide feedback for the design of new regulations.

    • Governance of regulators

      Regulators are bodies that are empowered by law and have regulatory powers to achieve policy outcomes such as the security of food, public health or the provision of electricity or water to consumers. They play a key role in the overall governance of a sector, service or industry through the delivery of government policies and regulations to achieve positive outcomes for society, the environment and the economy. Having the right governance structures, good regulatory practices and institutional arrangements in place is not only important for the performance of the regulator, but it also assists to create and maintain trust in public institutions and more generally in the rule of law. This includes the regulator’s legal objectives, powers, accountability requirements and the regulator’s independence from undue influence.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Public procurement

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    • Size of public procurement

      Public procurement refers to the purchase by governments and state-owned enterprises of goods, services and works and represents a significant amount of government expenditure. In 2013, governments spent, on average, 29% of the total general government expenditure on public procurement compared to an average level of 30% in 2009. As public procurement accounts for a substantial portion of the taxpayers’ money, governments are expected to carry it out efficiently and with high standards of conduct in order to ensure high quality of service delivery and safeguard the public interest.

    • Strategic public procurement

      While efficiency and cost effectiveness are among the primary objectives of public procurement, governments are also increasingly using it to pursue additional secondary policy objectives. Secondary policy objectives could include promoting sustainable green growth, the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, innovation, standards for responsible business conduct or broader industrial policy objectives, through their procurement policies.

    • E-procurement

      The use of digital technology in the public sector is a driver of efficiency and supports the effectiveness of policies by enabling more open, transparent, innovative, participatory and trustworthy government. In this light, the use of e--procurement, defined as the use of information and communications technologies in public procurement, not only increases efficiency by facilitating access to public tenders, thereby increasing competition and decreasing administrative burdens, but can also improve transparency by holding public authorities more accountable.

    • Central purchasing bodies

      A central purchasing body is a contracting authority that: i) acquires goods or services intended for one or more contracting authorities; ii) awards public contracts for works, goods or services intended for one or more contracting authorities; or, iii) concludes framework agreements for works, goods or services intended for one or more contracting authorities. Large procurement volumes could reduce prices by achieving economies of scale as well as increase competition. Furthermore, they reduce duplication, transaction costs, and increase certainty, simplicity and uniformity, allowing for more focused delivery of policy goals.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Digital government

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    • Social media use by governments

      Presence and activity on social media is no longer a matter of choice for most governments as these platforms are used by large parts of the population and both formal and informal interest groups. As of November 2014, the main offices of executive institutions (head of state, head of government, or government as a whole) operated a Twitter account in 28 out of 34 OECD countries and maintained a Facebook page in 21 out of 34 countries. In addition to central governments, many ministries, agencies, or individual programs have a social media presence, as do many regional and local levels of government.

    • Digital government performance

      Information and communication technologies (ICT) increasingly underlie all government activities. Governments in OECD countries spend up to 2% of their budgets on IT (OECD, 2013). Although the share might appear small, it includes many large and therefore risky projects.

    • Open government data

      The public sector produces and collects a wealth of data in its day-to-day activities. By making these data available, easily accessible and re-usable by citizens and businesses, governments can improve accountability and transparency, create new business opportunities and better inform both citizen engagement and their own decision-making.

    • Use of e-government services by individuals and businesses

      Government portals that provide a wide range of information and services like the possibility to fill out and submit administrative forms electronically (e.g. tax declarations) have considerably transformed the way individuals and businesses interact with their government.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Core government results

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    • Trust in government

      Trust is broadly understood as holding a positive perception about the actions of an individual or an organisation. While trust may be based on actual experience, it is for the most part a subjective phenomenon, reflected in the eyes of the beholder. Trust in government represents the confidence of citizens and businesses in the actions of governments to do what is right and perceived as fair. Most importantly the legitimacy of governments is built on being trusted by their citizens, as trust is mainly an enabler of fluent and effective interactions between governments and citizens.

    • Redistribution of income

      Among the main tasks of governments are guaranteeing that citizens have equality of opportunity and even access to basic public services. Governments should also assist those experiencing poverty by ensuring the attainment of a minimum standard of living. Based on the societal agreement, governments could play a more or a less important role in income redistribution through taxes and transfers. For many OECD member countries, the gap between the richest and the poorest is at its highest in 30 years (OECD, 2014c). Additionally, recent evidence suggests that inequality has a negative effect on economic growth (OECD, 2014a). By having fewer resources available people from disadvantaged social backgrounds underinvest in education, lowering social mobility and hampering skills development that are crucial for economic growth (OECD, 2014c).

    • Rule of law

      The principle of the rule of law refers to the authority and influence of law within a society. According to this principle, the law should govern and no one, including the government is above it. The rule of law is implemented through the existence of codified or standardised procedures and a series of mechanisms guaranteeing access, equality, predictability, reliability and accountability. It constitutes a key measure of good governance and it is crucial for maintaining peace and order, as well as fostering investment and development.

    • Public sector efficiency

      The recent economic crisis has increased pressures on governments to achieve efficiency gains in delivering public services. Based on conventional economic theory, efficiency is defined as the relationship between one or more inputs (or factors of production) and one or more outputs.

    • Public sector cost effectiveness

      Public sector cost effectiveness can be measured by looking at the relationship between inputs and broader outcomes in each sector. Generally speaking, outcomes refer to the effects of public programmes and services on citizens, in terms of welfare gains, health gains, educational/learning gains, and so on. While these outcomes can certainly be affected by the quality of programmes and services provided, they can also be affected by other factors, such as the socioeconomic background of the population and individual behavioural factors.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Serving citizens

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    • The OECD serving citizens' framework

      Governments are responsible for providing a wide range of public services that should meet the expectations of their citizens in terms of access, responsiveness and reliability/quality. The direct experience of citizens with front-line public services in health care, education, transport, justice, employment, tax administration and other services greatly affects their satisfaction with these services and more broadly their trust in public institutions. When citizens cannot afford some essential services, when their geographic or electronic access to services and information is difficult, when the services provided do not respond to their needs and are of poor quality, citizens will naturally tend to report lower satisfaction with these services and with public institutions and governments.

    • Citizen satisfaction with public services

      Data regularly collected through the Gallup World Poll allows some comparative analysis of the satisfaction level of citizens with a range of public services, notably in the areas of health, education and justice, across OECD and partner countries.

    • Financial and geographic access to health care

      Unmet health care needs, as reported in population-based surveys, are a good way of assessing any access problems for certain population groups. A European-wide survey (EU-SILC), conducted on an annual basis, provides information on the proportion of people reporting unmet care needs for medical examination for financial, geographic or other reasons.

    • Access to education

      In OECD countries, the education systems generally provide universal access to primary and secondary schools for children aged 5-14 years, although some parents may decide to send their children to private schools for various reasons. Access to tertiary education depends on the successful completion of secondary education, the mix of public and private costs for this higher level of education and other reasons.

    • Access to judicial systems and legal information

      Equal access to justice is an essential element of the proper functioning of the rule of law. Affordability of legal procedures for all citizens as well as access to legal information that is easily understandable are two key dimensions to assessing the degree of accessibility of judicial systems in OECD countries.

    • Responsiveness of health systems to patient needs

      Responsive and patient-centred health systems involve providing patients with access to health services within reasonable waiting times and treating them with respect and dignity.

    • Responsiveness of schools to student needs

      Responsiveness in education involves adapting teaching methods to the needs of different students, but also maintaining good communication with parents (or guardians of children) and interactions with community groups that might also provide support to the successful completion of basic education for all children.

    • Responsiveness of judicial systems to citizen needs

      Citizens expect judicial procedures to be implemented without unreasonable delays. In a study carried out by the OECD economic department in 2013, the authors estimated that a 10% increase in the length of trials is associated with around 2 percentage point decrease in the probability to have confidence in the justice system (Palumbo et al., 2013).

    • Quality of health care and patient safety

      The measurement and improvement of quality of care has become a crucial element of the governance of health systems in OECD countries, both at the hospital level and in primary care outside hospital, in response to growing public expectations for high quality and safe care. Quality of care can generally be measured through process measures (the appropriate use of interventions for patients with different health problems) and outcome measures (the extent to which health interventions reduce ill-health and mortality).

    • Student performance and equity in education

      The quality of education and school systems is reflected in their ability to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve their full potential. The PISA survey measures once every three years the performance of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science in more than 60 countries. It allows a comparison not only of average national scores but also of the equity of the results among children and schools within each country (PISA, 2012). The last wave of the PISA survey in 2012 focussed particularly on assessing performance in -mathematics.

    • Effectiveness and fairness of judicial systems

      Citizens expect court decisions to be implemented in an effective and fair manner. Well-functioning civil justice systems protect the rights of all citizens against infringement of the law by others, including by powerful parties and governments. An essential component of the rule of law is indeed based on effective and fair judicial systems to ensure that the laws are respected and appropriate sanctions are taken when they are violated. It is, however, very difficult to isolate the impact of well-functioning judicial systems on security outcomes and crime control from the involvement of other stakeholders such as the police and the correctional systems. Therefore this constitutes a major limitation in making causality links between those two.

    • Implementation of the 2008 System of National Accounts

      The System of National Accounts (SNA) consists of a coherent, consistent and integrated set of macroeconomic accounts, balance sheets and tables based on a set of internationally agreed concepts, definitions, classifications and accounting rules. The System of National Accounts 1993 was prepared under the joint responsibility of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Commission of the European Communities, the OECD and the World Bank (OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms). In 2009, it was decided to amend the 1993 SNA by the 2008 System of National Accounts. The 2008 SNA retains the basic theoretical framework of its predecessor. However, in line with the mandate of the United Nations Statistical Commission, the 2008 SNA introduces treatments for new aspects of economies that have come into prominence, elaborates on aspects that have increasingly become the focus of analytical attention and clarifies guidance on a wide range of issues. The changes in the 2008 SNA bring the accounts into line with developments in the economic environment, advances in methodological research and needs of users.

    • Methodology for revenue aggregates

      The following table provides detailed information about how the aggregates of taxes, net social contributions, and grants and other revenues presented in Public finance and economics were constructed from the OECD National Accounts data.

    • 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 illustrates, first-level COFOG splits expenditure data into ten functional groups or sub-sectors of expenditures (such as economic affairs, education and social protection), and second-level COFOG further splits each first-level group into up to nine sub-groups. While first-level COFOG data are available for 32 out of the 34 OECD member countries (according to time-series availability), second-level COFOG data are currently only available for 21 OECD European member countries plus Japan.First-level COFOG expenditures data are not available for Chile and Mexico. Until recently, second level COFOG data were available in some national statistical offices, but were not collected by international organisations. Moreover, the second-level COFOG data were not comparable among countries because the SNA/UN guide and the International Monetary Fund Manual on Government Finance Statistics do not provide much practical information on the application of COFOG concepts. However, in 2005, Eurostat established a task force to develop a manual on the application of COFOG to national account expenditure data and to discuss the collection of second-level COFOG data for European countries. Second-level COFOG data are not available for Turkey and all non-European member countries of the OECD (except Japan): Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States. In addition, these data are available only for selected COFOG divisions in some members of the EU. Efforts are underway to reach agreement with these countries about the submission of these data to the OECD.

    • Detailed data on conflict of interest disclosure

      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 .

    • OUR Data Index: Open, Useful, Reusable Government Data

      This annex provides data for each responding country on the efforts made by government to proactively disclose and support re-use of Open Government Data. The data underlie the summary of data presented in .

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