Directorate for Public Governance

Indicators of good government


Background | How is this publication different?

Technical papers | Further readingFurther information




Good governance is critical to long-term economic, social and environmental development. However, evaluating government activities and performance is challenging due to the limited availability of comparative data. Best practices are rarely definable and are often based on subjective assessments.

In 2005, the OECD launched the ‘Government at a Glance’ project to collect data and develop indicators describing government activities and performance. In particular, the project focuses on public management policies and practices in the areas of human resources management, budgeting, regulatory management and integrity. In addition, it collects data on the size and reach of government in terms of revenues, expenditures and employment. The goal of the project is to help countries better understand their practices and assess, plan and measure public sector reforms. In the longer term, it will hopefully contribute to the OECD-wide lesson learning process concerning sector efficiency and institutional effectiveness.


The latest edition of Government at a Glance can be found at:

Intended to be a biennial publication, future editions of Government at a Glance will build upon the core indicators introduced in the first edition of the publication, updating the data at regular intervals. These time series data enable governments to compare their institutional arrangements and performance to other OECD countries both at one point in time and over time; to shed light on the possible causes of performance differences among governments; and to facilitate more in-depth analysis of the impact of public sector reforms.

In addition to collecting time series data on key indicators included in the first edition, the next edition of Government at a Glance may focus on new areas explored in the technical papers below.


 How is this publication different from other data sets?

  • Benefiting from the OECD’s unique access to governments, data are provided by government officials and the indicators have a practitioner focus.
  • Introduces several composite indicators summarising key aspects of public management practices based on OECD guidelines and good practice. Details about these composite indicators are available in this technical annex
  • Does not evaluate overall government performance with a single ‘super’ indicator


Technical Papers

The initial Government at a Glance dataset and the 2009 edition of the publication were based on four technical papers. These papers have been combined and summarised in the publication Measuring Government Activity (2009), a technical companion to Government at a Glance 2009 that introduces the comprehensive data classification and analysis framework used in the project and discusses in detail the challenges of output and outcome measurement in the public sector.


  • Technical Paper 1:How and Why should Government Activity be Measured in Government at a Glance” contributes to an active debate concerning measurement of government activities. It reviews the project’s strategy and provides details on its scope, classification and other technical points.
  • Technical Paper 2:Issues in Output Measurement for Government at a Glance” contains a discussion of current issues regarding the measurement of non-financial outputs within the public sector. It suggests that non-financial outputs are classified according to the basis of measurement, the use made of the output measures, and their relationship to decision-making in government.
  • Technical Paper 3:Issues in Outcome Measurement for Government at a Glance” suggests that a series of “executive governance outcomes” be developed, which are primarily related to the activities of the executive branch of government. These might be broadly of three types: public confidence, equity and fiscal/economic stability.
  • Technical Paper 4: "Institutional Drivers of Efficiency in the Public Sector" sets out theoretical proposition and summarizes the existing empirical evidence on the impact of various institutional arrangements on efficiency in the public sector.  It groups those arrangements into four categories: results orientation; strengthening competitive pressures; increased flexibility and workforce arrangements.


 Further reading



 Further information


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