Government at a Glance 2009

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The actions and policies of government touch our daily lives in countless ways. Quantifying and measuring government actions can help leaders make better decisions, and can help to hold government accountable to its citizens. 

Government at a Glance is a new, biennial publication of the OECD providing over 30 indicators describing government performance. It compares the political and institutional frameworks of government across OECD countries, as well as government revenues, expenditures and employment. It also includes indicators describing government policies and practices in integrity, e-government and open government, and introduces several composite indexes summarising key aspects of public management practices in human resource management, budgeting and regulatory management. For each figure, the book provides a dynamic link (StatLink) which directs the user to a web page where the corresponding data are available in Excel® format.

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Ageing workforce

While the government must respond to the changing demands made by an ageing society (such as declining demand for primary education and increasing demand for health and elderly care services), government workers are themselves ageing. A very large proportion of the central government workforce will be retiring over a relatively short period of time. Maintaining the government’s capacity to deliver the same level and quality of services remains a complex issue. Significant staff departures create an opportunity to bring staff with new skills into government, downsize the workforce where needed, decrease staff costs (as entry-level salaries are lower) and re-allocate human resources across sectors. However, this can lead to loss of capacity and the need to postpone the retirement of some key staff. In addition, given the large share of government employment in many OECD member countries, these high replacement needs could risk pre-empting the private sector’s access to new labour market entrants.

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