Frédéric Varone and Steve Jacob, email@example.com. ac.be jacob@spri
" Institutionalising Policy Evaluation : A Comparison of Western democracies " Frédéric Varone and Steve Jacob, firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Association Universitaire de Recherche sur l’Action Publique (AURAP) Université Catholique de Louvain – Belgium Does policy evaluation assure a higher quality of public management and State action? If there is no clear answer to this question, one should nevertheless note that policy evaluation has been a governmental preoccupation in many industrialized countries. This is partly due to the fact that Western democracies currently face actually a legitimacy crisis. Furthermore, for several years, Western governments have aimed at policy rationalisation in order to stop the increasing State interventionism and\or the structural deficits of public spending. In such a context, policy evaluation tends to facilitate the a priori choice between various modes of public action. A posteriori, policy evaluation shows the (in)effectiveness of public action programmes and can thus be used as justification for the adaptation, reorientation or elimination of a public policy. The main objectives of our contribution are: 1. To describe the level of institutionalisation of policy evaluation within various Western democracies, 2. To identify the main factors enhancing these institutionalisation processes and, 3. To answer the following question: “Is institutionalisation of policy evaluation a pre-condition for organisational memory, learning and capacity building?” Thus, we intend to examine if "the development of policy evaluation is dependent upon the type of State in which it occurs and the nature of elites being able to carry it, and upon more cultural elements through which the public sector finds its definition and justification "1. Our contribution will proceed in five stages: 1. Definition of a theoretical institutionalisation index, based on indicators such as the existence of a society of professional evaluators, quality and ethical "evaluation standards", formal authorities in charged of policy evaluation (near the executive and\or near the legislative power), "evaluation clauses" in legislative texts, etc. 1 P DURAN, « Les ambiguïtés politiques de l’évaluation », Pouvoirs, Paris, PUF, n° 67, 1993, p. 137. 2. Description of the evolution (1970-2000) of the Degree of Evaluation Institutionalisation in the Western Democracies (empirical application of the index), 3. Quantitative Study of the structural factors (e.g. parliamentarism, presidentialism vs. consensus democracy, federalism vs. unitary States, level of economic development, etc.) influencing the degree of institutionalisation (analysis based on the data set of A. Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, 1999), 4. Qualitative cases studies of the process of institutionalising policy evaluation in some countries (e.g. USA, Canada, Switzerland, France, The Netherlands) and, 5. A Comparison of “Evaluator States" in order to determine if there are specific configurations explaining the emergence of evaluation practices within the various Western democracies. From there we'll draw conclusions and formulate recommendations for enhancing policy evaluation in democracies where this practice is not yet institutionalised.