Directorate for Public Governance

Measuring Government Activity


Table of contents | How to obtain this publication | Further reading


Measuring Government Activity | OECD Free preview | Powered by Keepeek Digital Asset Management Solution

 ISBN Number:

 Publication Date:
 29 Apr 2009

 Pages: 131


How government activities are measured matters. 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.

The last two decades have been characterised by significant public management reforms in OECD countries, but these have often been driven by policy fashion rather than solid evidence about costs and impacts, and arguably with significant over-claiming about best practices.

Addressing this concern, Measuring Government Activity provides a significant contribution to developing a coherent, reliable system for data collection and analysis.


This publication 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, an area that is at present limited, and recommends new approaches to measurement.

This report is a companion to the new OECD biennial Government at a Glance and will interest policy makers, civil servants and academics alike.


 Table of contents


Chapter 1. Introduction

-Some key distinctions
-Measures for different audiences and purposes

Chapter 2. Why Measure Government Activities?

-Measurement matters
-How can internatioanl comparable data assist governments?
-The risks of measurement
-The risks of non-use and of absent or weak data

Chapter 3. Output Measurement: Key Issues

-Technical issues
-Adding it up

Chapter 4. Outcome Measurement: Key Issues

-What outcome measures do governments use?
-Origins and growth of well-being measures
-Measures can provide a frame or vision for subsequent policy decisions
-Filling an apparent gap
-Developing comparative measures concerning trust in government
-Developing comparative measures concerning equity and economic and fiscal stability

Chapter 5. Improving the Measurement of Government Activities

-The scope of the data collection
-Establishing a coherentdata classification framework
-OECD's role

Annex A.
-Co-ordinating with Data Collections Developments in Non-OECD Countries

Annex B.
-Outcome Measures of Well-Being Included in at Leat Two National Publications Tracking

Government Performance




 How to obtain this publication


Readers can access the full version of Measuring Government Activity by choosing from the following options:

• Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the online edition via SourceOECD, our online library.

• Non-subscribers can browse the full text on line and purchase the PDF e-book and/or paper copy via our Online Bookshop.

• Order from your local distributor.

• Government officials with accounts (subscribe) can go to the "Books" tab on OLIS.

• Access by password for accredited journalists.


 Further reading

• Indicators on good governance, introducing 'Government at a Glance'


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