Performance Auditing

Performance Auditing

Contributing to Accountability in Democratic Government

Edited by Jeremy Lonsdale, Peter Wilkins and Tom Ling

This state-of-the-art book examines the development of performance audit, drawing on the experience in a number of different countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Jeremy Lonsdale

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


Jeremy Lonsdale Performance audit involves assessing whether government policies, programs and institutions are well managed and being run economically, efficiently and effectively. This is a task of potentially great significance – at a practical level for citizens, and at a more abstract level for the health and vitality of democratic governance. (Pollitt et al., 1999) The post-bubble era is going to be impatient of extravagance. It will be flintier, value-conscious and much less forgiving of waste. It will demand that the public sector justifies its existence to those who pay its bills . . . Simmering jealousy will boil up into hot anger if the public sector isn’t delivering value for money. (Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer newspaper column (UK), 2009) The first decade of the twenty-first century will be remembered for the scale of the economic crisis experienced across the world, and the lives of individuals in the current decade will be shaped by how governments respond to the fundamental changes that have occurred. Total capitalisation of the world’s stock markets was almost halved in 2008, representing a loss of nearly US $30 trillion of wealth. Industrial production in the first quarter of 2009 fell 62 per cent in Japan and 42 per cent in Germany. The global crisis forced governments to act swiftly under considerable pressure in order to tackle a range of political and economic problems affecting both the private and the public sectors. These actions included immediate intervention in the financial sector, massive budgetary commitment to extra-ordinary public spending, quick expansion...