Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development

Government at a Glance 2009


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ISBN Number:     

Publication Date: 
22 Oct 2009

Pages: 157


Government policies and actions matter. The current global financial, social and environmental challenges highlight the unique role of government in serving the public interest. The actions and policies of government touch our daily lives in countless ways, from obtaining drivers’ licenses to the taxes we pay on our incomes to maintaining public order and safety. The quality, flexibility and effectiveness of public governance systems are central to countries’ capabilities to provide these services effectively and efficiently, and to address future challenges.

Government at a Glance is a new, biennial publication of the OECD. It provides over 30 indicators describing key elements underlying government performance. With a focus on public administration, the publication compares the size and reach of government across OECD countries from the perspective of 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.








One out of seven people work for the state in OECD countries, and 40% of GDP is spent on government goods and services. But how do you measure governments innovation and efficiency?

OECD's Jordon Holt discusses the new report, Government at a Glance.




How can governments address current fiscal, social and environmental challenges?

Governments around the world acted on an unprecedented scale and scope to address the global crisis of 2008. While necessary, these actions severely increased deficit and debt levels, making public sector reforms that can lead to cost savings critical. In addition, rising unemployment illustrates that the social implications of the global economic crisis have not yet been fully felt. Meanwhile, governments are also looking for policy solutions to climate change, poverty, ageing populations, migration and a host of other long-term concerns.

Designing and implementing policies and programmes to address these challenges is a daunting task. It draws on the capacity of governments to serve the public interest and to strengthen frameworks for well-functioning markets. In addition, it is imperative that governments act in a transparent and accountable manner. Calls for government transparency and accountability have gained increased support in the context of the public and private failures that contributed to the financial crisis, as well as the scale of government intervention and spending that the crisis has induced. Within government itself, transparency has greatly increased in importance over the past decade. The number of central governments identifying transparency as a core value almost doubled between 2000 and 2009. (see Figure)



Presenting data up to 2007, Government at a Glance cannot yet track the effects of the crisis on government operations. However, its indicators provide insights into government’s capacity to deal with current and future challenges, as well as the options governments face when trying to reduce deficits and debts.


 Executive summary

Executive summaries in PDF format

Read the Highlights online or download them for free in the following languages:


  Chinese   English French          
  German     Japanese Spanish                     



StatLink in Excel® format

Table of Content



I. Current and Future Public Governance Challenges

II. Government Revenues.
1. General government revenues
2. Structure of general government revenues
3. Revenue structure by level of government

III. Government Expenditures
4. General government expenditure
5. General government expenditure by function
6. General government expenditure by level of government
7. General government expenditure by type

IV. Intersection between the Public and Private Sectors
8. Production costs in general government

V. Public Employment
9. Employment in general government and public corporations
10. Decentralisation of employment
11. Employment of women in central government
12. Ageing workforce

VI. Human Resource Management Practices
13. Delegation in human resource management
14. Central government recruitment systems
15. Staff performance management
16. Senior civil service

VII. Budget Practices and Procedures
17. Fiscal sustainability
18. Budget disclosures
19. Medium-term budget perspective
20. Performance-oriented budgeting
21. Executive budget flexibility

VIII. Regulatory Management
22. Regulatory impact analysis
23. Simplification strategies
24. Formal consultation

IX. Integrity
25. Conflict-of-interest disclosure by decision makers
26. Public interest disclosure: Whistle-blowing
27. Preventing corruption: Public procurement

X. Open and Responsive Government
28. Open government legislation
29. E-Government readiness
30. E-Government service maturity
31. Uptake of e-Government services

Annex A. Methodology for Revenue Aggregates

Annex B. Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG)

Annex C. Composite Indexes for HRM, Budget Practicesand Regulatory Management  (Download PDF 6.75mb)

Annex D. Detailed Data from the 2009 Survey on Integrity

Annex E. Contextual Factors

Annex F. Members of the Steering Group



 Country notes


Key findings for selected countries: (PDF format)


  Australia    Austria    


  Canada    Czech Republic   Denmark
  Finland   France   Germany                 
  Greece   Hungary   Iceland
  Ireland   Italy   Japan
  Korea   Luxembourg   Netherlands
  New Zealand   Norway   Poland
  Portugal   Slovak Republic   Spain
  Sweden   Switzerland   Turkey
  United Kingdom   United States    



 How to purchase this publication

Readers can access the full version of Government at a Glance 2009  by choosing from the following options:





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  Further reading


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