Contributing to Accountability in Democratic Government
Edited by Jeremy Lonsdale, Peter Wilkins and Tom Ling
Chapter 9: The Impact of Performance Audits: A Review of the Existing Evidence
Eddy Van Loocke and Vital Put In this chapter,1 the available literature about the impact of performance auditing is mapped and subjected to critical assessment. A conceptual framework is developed to reflect upon the impact of performance audits and 14 empirical studies are reviewed with the help of this conceptual framework. We then discuss the information on impact derived from the performance measurement systems of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs). Finally, we deal with the literature on the side-effects of performance auditing, and end with some practical conclusions and a research agenda. INTRODUCTION The task of the SAI has changed over recent decades. While in the past their main task was often to help their parliament to oversee government operations, as we saw in Chapter 1, an increasing number of SAIs now aim to contribute to a better functioning of government. This twofold mission is apparent from the websites of many SAIs. For example: We hold government to account for the way it uses public money. We support, by helping public service managers improve performance. (National Audit Office, UK.) The Algemene Rekenkamer aims at checking and improving the lawful, efficient, effective and ethical functioning of the state and its dependent bodies. (Algemene Rekenkamer, the Netherlands.) It helps parliamentary assemblies and provincial councils to exercise control over the collection and use of government funds. . . . The Court seeks to improve the functioning of the state . . . (Belgian Court of Audit.) Such assertions prompt the question as to the extent to which performance audits...
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