The Reality of Budgetary Reform in OECD Nations

The Reality of Budgetary Reform in OECD Nations

Trajectories and Consequences

Edited by John Wanna, Lotte Jensen and Jouke de Vries

The Reality of Budgetary Reform in OECD Nations investigates the impacts and consequences of budgetary reform through a comparative assessment of advanced Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) democracies that have undertaken budget reforms over the past two to three decades.

Chapter 13: The Work in Progress of Budgetary Reform

John Wanna

Subjects: economics and finance, public finance, public sector economics


John Wanna Budgeting is a work in progress. The process is never quite settled because those who manage it are never fully satisfied. (Allen Schick 2002) The 11 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations surveyed in this book have considerable experience with budget reforms often dating back 20 or even 30 years. Their trajectories and reform agendas vary considerably in terms of local adaptation, timing or sequencing, the political complexion of the perpetrators, institutional motivations and the scope and chosen instruments of reform. No two countries have similar trajectories or reform pathways, and there are still great dissimilarities in the ways budgets are framed, assembled and presented. Across these case studies we see trajectories, not a unilinear trajectory. It is not true to claim (as Blondal 2003 suggests) that there has been a single direction of reform along which countries have been inexorably heading (but see also Schick 2000 and 2002 where he sketches out some common budgetary trends from 1980 and tries to predict a range of future reforms). As we have seen, political and institutional differences largely account for these dissimilarities, as do the nature of the pressures experienced by governments from period to period. Three dimensions in particular appear to divide these OECD countries: speed, scope and thematic emphasis. Some countries have attempted rapid progress with budget reform, making substantial changes in close proximity or in ‘one big bang’ (Australia, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Korea). Others have been much more circumspect, episodic or slow...

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