Evaluating Public Expenditure Programmes: A Role for Programme Review

Boyle, Richard

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URL http://edoc.vifapol.de/opus/volltexte/2009/1096/
Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: CPMR- Committee for Public Management Research
Schriftenreihe: CPMR discussion paper
Bandnummer: 1
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 1997
Publikationsdatum: 30.03.2009
Originalveröffentlichung: http://www.cpmr.gov.ie/publications/discussion-papers/ (1997)
DDC-Sachgruppe: Öffentliche Verwaltung
BK - Basisklassifikation: 88.10 (Öffentliche Verwaltung: Allgemeines)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.7 Verwaltungswissenschaften

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

This paper investigates programmes review, the process whereby government expenditure programmes are examined from a results perspective. Drawing from international experience, the paper explores some of the main issues involved in developing a system of programme review. The aim is to promote discussion on the most appropriate ways of implementing programme review in government departments, given the government decision of 25 March 1997 to introduce a programme of comprehensive expenditure reviews. This decision enacts the commitment in Delivering Better Government (1996) to introduce regular, periodic reviews of programmes. These reviews will take place within the context of the move to multi-annual budgeting, with a three-year cycle of expenditure planning and review. A number of points are highlighted in the paper: · Programme review is not new. It is currently undertaken in the civil service, but on an ad-hoc and limited basis (section 2). · Arrangements for programme review are likely to vary from department to department, depending on the size and range of programmes they have responsibility for and the size of the department. The most common options are to locate the programme review function with line managers or with a departmental corporate staff group. Programmes may also be reviewed by independent units and by sources external to the department (section 3). · The evaluation units set up to monitor and review EU structural funds are an innovative example of programme review in one specific area of activity. The wider applicability of this model is worth further study (section 3.3). · The location of the programme review function determines the type of issues which will be addressed. The closer the review function is to the programme Committee for Public Management Research 4 under scrutiny, the less likely it is to be able to deal with issues of impact and continuing relevance of the programme (section 3.5). · Programme review needs to focus on a number of key attributes of the programme under scrutiny. Significant attributes include: efficiency, effectiveness, equity, cost, intrusiveness and accountability (section 4.1). · Reviewing each programme comprehensively once every three years is a challenging task. International experience indicates that in practice, priorities will have to be set (section 4.2). · Training and development supports will be needed; both for those conducting programme review, to develop evaluation skills; and for those commissioning and using review studies, to get the most out of them (section 5). · Encouraging effective demand to ensure that programme review findings are actively used in public expenditure decisions is a central challenge. Questions addressed in programme review should lead to improvements or to the modification or termination of unsuccessful programmes. Demand can be encouraged by effective use of the three main policy instruments: ‘sticks’, ‘carrots’ and ‘sermons’ (section 6). · Resourcing the review process and the right to ask and address the key questions are particularly important if the demand for review is to be encouraged. Specific ‘ear-marking’ of funds for review is one means of enabling review to compete with other activities for resources. Questions must include a focus on the outcomes and results of programmes if reviews are to address more than relatively minor issues (section 6). · Programme review findings do not automatically feed into budgetary and planning decisions. These links need to be developed. Formal mechanisms and processes are needed to ensure that review findings are influential (section 7). Committee for Public Management Research 1. Background Programme review refers to the process whereby government programme expenditure is examined from a results perspective. The aim is to determine whether there is a public need for the programme, and if so, can it be improved. Questions generally focus on the efficiency and effectiveness of programme expenditure, and determining whether spending is focused on the highest priorities. There are various means of reviewing programmes, of which the most common are usually manager-led reviews, audit, and evaluation (Annual Report to Parliament by the President of the Treasury Board, 1995: 10-11). Programme review is specifically referred to in Delivering Better Government (1996:59-60): The group recognise that there is a need for a systematic analysis of what is actually being achieved by the £12 billion in government resources spent annually. To this end, the group recommend ... agreements between the Department of Finance and individual departments on delegated authority for programme expenditures to provide for a schedule of reviews of expenditure to be carried out during the currency of the agreement, with the aim of ensuring that each programme of expenditure is subject to a thorough review at least once every three years. A government decision of 25 March 1997 enacted this recommendation, by specifying arrangements for carrying out comprehensive programme expenditure reviews. A steering committee for programme evaluation is to oversee the process. This committee will be chaired by the Secretary General, Department of Finance, and include two secretaries general of spending departments and an independent consultant. Reviews, which will be specified each year by departments, are to be carried out under joint Finance and spending department steering groups. The review programme will aim to examine all spending programmes over a three year period. Committee for Public Management Research Reports will be submitted to the steering committee, who will then report to the Minister for Finance and the minister responsible for the programme reviewed. The need for such a system of programme review is highlighted by the National Economic and Social Council report Strategy into the 21st Century, where weaknesses in the current public expenditure control system are identified: ‘Even when new priorities and programmes emerge, expenditure on existing programmes has a strong tendency to grow. This tendency for expenditure to grow undermines the ability of policy to reflect priorities’ (NESC, 1996:21). These weaknesses need to be tackled if the council’s recommended approach to fiscal policy is to be pursued(NESC, 1996:23): That approach must recognise that action to deliver greater employment, social inclusion and action to reduce taxation, especially personal taxes, are fundamental priorities. These priorities must be achieved in the first instance, and not as residuals when existing or ‘no policy change’ expenditure bills are met. The council wishes to stress the need to limit the growth in current public expenditure to no more than 2 per cent per annum in real terms. The council appreciates that it will be necessary to make significant savings on existing activities both to observe that limit and to find room for the costs of the council’s social action programme. The council believes that there is scope for greater efficiency and effectiveness in many areas of public expenditure. The council thus identifies as a key requirement for successful public finance management the review and development of the systems of public expenditure management and control, within the context of the council’s strategy and the Strategic Management Initiative (SMI) (NESC, 1996:22). This paper aims to explore some of the main issues involved in developing a system of programme review. A number of key questions arise from plans to develop programme review: how comprehensive can coverage be; what skills and resources Committee for Public Management Research are needed to undertake reviews; how can review be linked to budgetary decisionmaking;what should the respective roles of the Department of Finance and line departments be? These questions are addressed, using lessons learnt from international experience with programme review. In capturing this experience, this paper draws heavily on the emerging findings of a study into evaluation capacity building being undertaken by an International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IIAS) working group on policy and programme evaluation (Boyle and Lemaire (eds), forthcoming). Section 2 of this paper outlines current practice with regard to programme review inthe Irish civil service. In section 3, possible alternative locations for the programme review function are discussed. Section 4 looks at what should be covered by programme review. Section 5 outlines the skills and competencies needed for conducting and using programme review. Section 6 explores the incentives and sanctions available to help institutionalise programme review. Section 7 investigates the linking of programme review and budgeting. Finally in Section 8, some conclusions and issues for consideration are outlined.


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