Measuring Government Activity

image of Measuring Government Activity

The size and the economic significance of the public sector make it a major contributor to economic growth and social welfare. The goods and services government provides, its redistributive and regulatory powers, and how those are exercised affect the way business is conducted and people live their lives in every country. Citizens are entitled to understand how government works and how public revenues are used. This book provides a significant contribution to developing a coherent, reliable system for data collection and analysis. It summarises the available OECD and other international data on public sector inputs and processes. It also examines the existing internationally comparable data on outputs and outcomes, and recommends new approaches to measurement.



Outcome Measurement

Key Issues

Outcomes are those events, occurrences, or conditions that are the intended or unintended results of government actions. They happen “out there”, in society, rather than “in here” inside public organisations. They concern what the graduate can do and understand rather than what lessons and support s/he has received at university; whether the pensioner can live a normal life on the state pension rather than whether it was paid correctly and on time; whether biodiversity is actually preserved rather than whether the environmental inspectorate carried out the required number of inspections according to plan. Thus, outcomes are generally of direct importance to service users and the general public. For example, in a social policy programme to improve financial management of families, outputs (what the service produces) are the number of counselling sessions or the number of families able to participate in financial management training. However, the desired outcomes include improvements (absolute or relative) in families’ financial status, e.g. having more families living within a budget. 


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