Performance Evaluation, Public Management Improvement and Democractic Accountability: Some Lessons from Latin America

Ospina, S., Cunill, N. & Zaltsman, A.
Public Management Review, Spring 2004, Vol 6, no. 2, pp. 230-251.

The results-oriented management reforms fostered by the New Public Management movement are often argued to emphasize the search for efficiency, quality and other typical market values at the expense of democratic accountability. On the other hand, challenging this view, some authors claim that results-based management reforms have the potential to enhance political accountability and representative democracy. There is however, limited empirical evidence of this relationship. This article uses some of the findings from a comparative study of public management evaluation systems in four Latin American countries to illuminate this relationship in practice. We discuss the fact that, in two of the four countries surveyed, the design features of the new systems were based on the explicit search for increased political accountability and the deepening of democracy. We also discuss the possible causes for the finding that the outcome and performance information generated is not being applied for decision-making purposes yet, as expected.

Wagner Faculty