By Daniel Hunter
The global economic crisis has undermined trust in government. Today only four out of ten citizens in OECD countries say they have confidence in their national authorities. Not surprisingly, trust declined in the countries hit hardest by the crisis, such as Ireland, Greece, Slovenia and Portugal.
But measures can be taken to rebuild trust, according to a new OECD report. The OECD’s latest edition of Government at a Glance argues that governments need to be more inclusive, transparent, receptive and efficient. For that, they need to put their fiscal houses in order, deliver high quality services to their citizens and provide open and transparent data.
“Citizens look to governments to lead the way. Without strong leadership, supported by effective policies, trust is easily eroded. Good governance means putting the needs of people at the centre of policy-making,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.
“Action needs to be taken urgently," he added. "Building back trust is crucial to implement the necessary structural and fiscal reforms that are key to restoring growth and promoting well-being. Government at a Glance is a unique international comparator that can help policy-makers chart the way towards rebuilding that trust.”
This year’s edition of Government at a Glance measures the performance of governments in the OECD’s 34 member countries through more than 50 indicators ranging from hospital waiting times to government spending; from public sector employment to procurement policies.
The report finds that, despite diminishing trust in national government, citizens are generally pleased with the many public services they receive locally in their daily lives. For instance, on average 72% of citizens reported having confidence in their local police force.
Almost the same percentage considered themselves satisfied with health care, and 66% were satisfied with the education system. The report also highlights the persistent gender gap in the public sector: women still occupy only 40% of middle management and just 29% are represented in more senior posts.
The indicators in Government at a Glance provide international comparisons and trends in eight broad areas: strategic governance; public finance, budgeting practices; public sector pay and employment; women in government; public procurement; open and inclusive government and quality and accessibility of public services.
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