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Performance reporting in Ireland: the ongoing gap between rhetoric and reality

Francis McGeough (Department of Business, Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




The annual report is an important means of organisational accountability. In recent years, public sector organisations (PSOs) influenced by New Public Management have been expected to publish performance information which will enable the readers of the annual report to assess how the organisation is doing. The purpose of this paper is to examine the level of performance information published by a range of PSOs in Ireland to verify if the increased emphasis on performance reporting was having an impact on actual reporting by PSOs.


The research involved a detailed study of a number of annual reports published by Irish PSOs over two time periods. These organisations had an operational focus and were standalone.


The research finds that Irish PSOs publish a reasonable level of performance indicators but most of these indicators are not compared to a target; the majority of organisations do not publish any targets in their annual report. This makes it very difficult for the reader to assess how the organisation is doing. The level of reporting has not improved since the OECD report of 2008.


The research finds that there is a substantial gap between the rhetoric of reform as set out in official government documentation and the reality of reporting by Irish PSOs. This reduces the level of accountability and raises doubts about the performance and effectiveness of Irish PSOs.



McGeough, F. (2015), "Performance reporting in Ireland: the ongoing gap between rhetoric and reality", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 2-10.



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