The profound and comprehensive change in society will challenge the development of public administration in the next few years. Key factors both in this development and in auditing will be identifying changes and understanding what is essential. Other factors to be considered are the roles of different actors and the cooperation between them.
A recent publication by the National Audit Office provides an overview of the development phases of the Finnish public administration and the audit of its operations and development.
In recent years, the main themes in the development of public administration have included strengthening the cross-sectoral approach and policy coherence, better utilization of information to support decision-making, and strategic management.
In auditing, too, issues are examined more and more in a future-oriented manner, overhauling the audit approach. This makes it possible to produce information to support future decisions and solutions and to ensure that central government solutions and development measures support the achievement of objectives.
Public administration and its development can be assessed in different ways, for instance according to the level of operations:
As regards policy-level guidelines and objectives, it would be possible to assess how well the selected and defined objectives are aligned with wider societal objectives that go beyond public administration. It would also be useful to assess the consistency of the different objectives set for the reform of public administration.
Issues to be assessed and audited at the level of concrete overall reforms could include, for example, the effectiveness and appropriateness of the planning and implementation of the reform, the relationship of the selected reform paths and measures with administrative policy guidelines, or the scope and consistency of different reforms in public administration.
As the issues dealt with by public administration become more complex, it is important to pay attention to policy coherence, i.e. the consistency of the measures taken.
The actors developing public administration identify needs and set expectations especially for the formation of an overall picture, the identification of links and interconnections between issues and phenomena, the consideration of the temporal dimension, and the improvement of interaction and cooperation. On the basis of the above, stakeholders expect the National Audit Office to also serve as a connector, facilitator of discussions, and maintainer of the overall picture of public administration and its development.