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Government at a Glance 2013

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Government at a Glance 2013 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 and health. Government at a Glance also includes indicators on key governance and public management issues, such as transparency in governance, regulatory governance, new ways in delivering public services and HRM and compensation practices in the public service. 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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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 defence, 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, second-level COFOG data are currently only available for 21 OECD European member countries plus Japan.First-level COFOG 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 Switzerland 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.

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