Study evaluates implementation of Austrian public admin reforms

New study by Gerhard Hammerschmid on outcome-based management and performance budgeting.

A new study led by Professor of Public Administration Gerhard Hammerschmid examines the effects of a far-reaching public administration reform in Austria to put outcomes at the heart of steering federal government. In 2013, the Austrian Federal Government enshrined outcome orientation as new principle of budget management in the Federal Constitutional Law (Bundesverfassungsgesetz - BV-G) and introduced a new Federal Budget Law (Bundeshaushaltsgesetz).

The study, “Focus Study II: Implementation of Outcome-based Steering in the Austrian Federal Government” (Umsetzung der Wirkungsorientierten Verwaltungssteuerung in der Bundesverwaltung), was commissioned by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Civil Service and Sport (BMöDS) and conducted by the Hertie School.

Outcome-based management and performance budgeting over the last two decades have become major trends in international public management reform. The aim of this research is to analyze how the two main areas of outcome-orientation - outcome-based steering of government and outcome-based impact assessment (OIA; Wirkungsorientierte Folgenabschätzung) - have developed in terms of relevance, acceptance, quality assurance, and monitoring and evaluation. The study also compares Austria’s experience with international experiences, in particular with a similar system introduced by the Swiss government.

According to the report, “Austria has developed from a former laggard towards an international frontrunner of implementing performance based budgeting and outcome-based steering (OECD 2017a:127). While Austria was still in the lower ranks of the OECD Performance Budgeting Index in 2014 it is now in the top field and is the country that recorded the strongest development leap in the period from 2011 to 2016.”

Using the Austrian example, the researchers found that The successful implementation of outcome-based steering encompasses a far-reaching cultural change and is a long-term and resource-intensive process that poses significant challenges even to highly innovative administrations and countries that have introduced such reforms much earlier.”

The study offers 15 policy recommendations, providing practical and concrete suggestions for developing and improving outcome-based steering.

Gerhard Hammerschmid and his team conducted in-depth interviews with key actors in all federal ministries (four of which have recently been appointed as Ministers of the new expert government) as well as an online survey.

Read the report in German here. An English version is forthcoming.

More about Gerhard Hammerschmid

  • Gerhard Hammerschmid , Professor of Public and Financial Management | Director, Centre for Digital Governance