The Risks of Efficiency Indicators in the Monitoring of Public Policies
21 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2005 Last revised: 26 May 2008
The deep upheavals of the public sphere, which take place today, are above all the result of a long basic reflection on the future of a more efficient management of the institutions but also of the organizations. In France, we are confronted today with a requirement for organisational change. The LOLF Reform (the new budgetary law framework) is a convincing illustration: the simple concept of public management is gone beyond management of objectives, to be based on a concept of efficiency of the public policies. These problems thus concern directly the idea of performance of the public sector, which is largely under scrutiny. Admittedly, it is necessary to clearly distinguish measurements of performance within the organizations from those used for the political systems. Besides, we will show, throughout this article, the inevitable drift of a performance management system that would neglect the institutional and decisional aspects, which would confuse the managerial tools with the policies of application of the performance criteria.
The origin of the term efficiency draws on a remote basic definition, issued mainly of works on management, proposing an approach based on the relationship between the means implemented and the results obtained, in other words like the relationship between the committed resources and the produced goods and services. The question arises then, how to measure this performance if it is not only by measuring the relationship between the inputs and the outputs, but to do so, a definition of the evaluation criteria of this efficiency is necessary. The movement of planning programming budgeting system allowed, inter alia, highlighting certain tools and techniques like the dashboards or the cost accounting of the public service. But today, we are no longer at the time of the installation of the tools, but have reached the stage of policy assessment. The object of this research is to understand in what these indicators of efficiency are relevant in relation to the strategic monitoring of the public organization. Are these indicators efficient? Insofar are they likely to represent, on the contrary, a genuine brake with the public performance? The eruption of these efficiency indicators in the public domain, as well as a review of the literature concerning their true stakes, will be the subject of the first part of this research. We will propose then, through an empirical investigation, by case studies, a crossed analysis allowing to better determining the maladjustment of these criteria to the field realities. Thus, our analysis draws on two particular fields of organisational management: scientific research and public health.
Through a summary of the results and a relevant return on the literature, we shall endeavour to bring out the genuine managerial tools for a more efficient public sector. We will emphasize potential drifts and imperfections of a system, which in proposing a globalisation of measurement criteria, is based on an idea of efficiency often unsuited to the stakes of public management.
Keywords: Public performance, efficiency, strategic monitoring, public decision
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