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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Current and Future Public Governance Challenges

Governments have been concerned for quite some time with their institutional and human capacity to improve the livelihoods of citizens, the competitiveness or viability of business, the delivery of basic public services, and trust in regulatory institutions. As part of broad reform and change agendas, many OECD member countries have been developing and revising their governance institutions, frameworks and tools. The current global financial, economic, social and environmental challenges highlight the unique role of government in serving the public interest. They also direct renewed attention towards the institutions, policies and tools that help government deliver what citizens and businesses need and expect, highlighting areas where further changes may be needed, or where additional consideration may be required on how best to realise reform efforts. Not only are the regulatory rules, oversight systems and procedures for the financial services sector at the forefront of proposed actions by government, but the fiscal crisis has also put the role of governments, the scope of their activities and their effectiveness in advancing the public good at centre stage. In particular, governments are looking at how they can improve their capacity to anticipate and manage risks, and react quickly to complex problems in changing environments. Due to the global nature of these challenges, it is no longer enough to act at the national level. International co-operation and co-ordination is proving to be a critical element of any credible and effective policy response.

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