Performance audit as a contribution to change and improvement in public administration
Vabo, Signy Irene
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The last 30 years of the New Public Management ‘regime’ in many western countries have resulted in increased use of audit and other control mechanisms. These mechanisms are supposed to contribute both to accountability and improvement. In this article, theories of evaluation and organizational learning are used to understand how the dynamics of control affect change processes. We analyse responses to performance audit reports carried out by the country’s Supreme Audit Institution – an important control institution in Norway, as in most other countries. The findings are primarily based on survey data from 353 Norwegian civil servants. The auditees reported that they were mostly positive towards the reports and used them to make improvements in their control systems; however, civil servants also perceived the reports to be unbalanced. The results indicate that the performance audits’ contributions to improvements are less clear than they appear to be at first glance, and that personal and political factors may affect civil servants’ responses.