Maximising synergies among evaluation units to assess more broadly the economic and societal outcomes of policies
The CORA reform is contributing to the creation of new tools and mechanisms, even if for the moment just on a short or in some cases medium-term basis, for better efficiency and effectiveness of the Spanish public administration. The first Public Governance Review of Spain stressed the potential of exploring synergies among different evaluation units. This is particularly the case for other monitoring bodies that also operate under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration (MINHAP), such as the Public Policy and Quality of Service Assessment Agency (AEVAL) and the General Comptroller of the State Administration (IGAE). However, there is still a need to bolster co-ordination and co-operation in setting, implementing, monitoring and reporting on the results of a robust performance assessment framework that, among other things, “tells the story” to citizens and businesses of the impact of institutional consolidation at all levels of government on economic performance, nationally and in the regions.
In this sense, the AEVAL, an institution focused on assessing policy performance, promotes and conducts evaluations and impact analyses of the Spanish government’s public policies and programmes, as well as of its management of service quality, while promoting the rational use of resources and accountability to citizens. In the context of the administrative reform, the AEVAL’s mandate could have been extended in order to contribute to a wider vision and assessment of the CORA’s impact and help report on the results of a robust performance assessment framework that other monitoring bodies in the Spanish system do not offer. Publications like the “Practical guide to the design and conduct of public policy evaluations. The AEVAL approach” (“Guia practica para el diseno y realizacion de evaluaciones de politicas phblicas. El enfoque AEVAL”) are evidence of the agency’s know-how and experience that could be shared to complement the relevant and essential work of the General Comptroller of the State Administration IGAE and the General Inspector of Services at a sectoral level.
Supreme Audit Institutions traditionally take on the role of auditing public policy performance. For example, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the United States or the Algemene Rekenkamer of the Netherlands (OECD, 2015c) are external, independent bodies devoted to this purpose. In the case of Spain, the Court of Audit’s mandate (Tribunal de Cuentas) is restricted to budget accountability and financial management of the public sector3 The Government of Spain could explore ways for existing institutions to develop independent processes for the auditing of public policy performance, and in doing so could take advantage of the know-how and experience of existing bodies engaged in public policy performance auditing.
At the same time, since the creation of the Independent Authority on Fiscal Responsibility (AIRF), this body has produced reports regarding the financial situation of the autonomous communities. There is no evidence on the central government’s feedback or the impact of such assessments, neither on the governments’ policies nor on the CORA measures.