Trajectories and Consequences
Edited by John Wanna, Lotte Jensen and Jouke de Vries
Chapter 1: Investigating the Reality of Reform in Modern Budgeting
John Wanna Human beings have been reforming government ever since they invented government. (Light 1997) Everything has been changed, but nothing has happened. (Graffiti on the Berlin Wall, 1990s) This book is concerned with the effectiveness of budgetary reforms in a selection of developed countries. It asks how might we judge the reality of budgetary reform in these nations – in good fiscal times as well as in bad. Our intention in each country study is not to offer a synchronic snapshot reporting what exists currently, or how countries are coping with fiscal stress in the midst of the financial crisis, but to assess the reforms over a longitudinal period – say 20 to 30 years – which may differ for each country depending on the particular timelines of reform attempted or implemented. In essence, the book is fundamentally about understanding processes of change and assessing the consequences of change to budgetary systems and to the ways modern governments work. It asks whether budgetary reforms have made a difference and, if so, to what they have made a difference, and to what extent. Have they improved our forms of governance and how we are governed, or have they been of benefit to the nation and to the wider community? Despite economic difficulties are governments better placed to manage their fiscal policies and budgetary priorities into the future? At first sight, counting the consequences of budgetary reform appears seductively simple, but in practice is inevitably complex and contextual. Judging the merits of any reform...
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