The Quest for Efficiency in the Public Sector. Towards a Refined Action Model
Abstract The national Courts of Audit are going through a series of developments [Pollitt & Bouckaert 2004: 73-74]. Traditionally their mission is to check the legality of public expenditures. However, with a legality of almost 100 percent, the Dutch Court of Audit shifted its attention to the efficiency of government spending. The pursuit of efficiency in the public sector is at the heart, too, of the VBTB that can be seen as the Dutch interpretation of the international trend into the direction of performance informed budgeting1. Academically tributary to the body of knowledge of policy analysis and evaluation, the VBTB is making a clear cut distinction between the drafting of the budget and accounting for the budget. The latter is the domain of the Court of Audit, scrutinizing the annual reports of ministries, basically raising three questions: 1.Have we achieved what we intended to achieve? 2.Have we done what we should have done? 3.Has it cost what we expected it would cost? More precisely, the Court of Audit is looking at the availability as well as the quality of the information provided by government. The findings are submitted to parliament on the third Wednesday of May. In this paper we focus on the interaction between the Court of Audit and the standing committee on Public Expenditures in parliament in charge of the VBTB. In addition, attention will be paid to the utilization of the findings of the Court of Audit in next year’s budget.