Structural Implementation of Gender Equality in Performance Management
Austrian Federal Chancellery

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
In 1995, when the Beijing Declaration was adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, the participating countries declared their commitment to design, implement and monitor effective, efficient and mutually reinforcing gender-sensitive policies. In Austria many of the most fundamental rights for women (from universal suffrage to equality in family law) have been adopted in the decades prior to that conference and many more measures have been implemented since. However many of these were small-scale, individual and uncoordinated interventions by various public bodies. There was no single, coherent mechanism for implementing and evaluating effective gender equality across all policy fields. There was no legal obligation for all federal ministries to implement measures nor was there any comprehensive system in place to monitor equality in the respective policy fields. Over time numerous reports were published that reported on roadblocks on the way to true gender equality and deficits in the promotion of gender equality. One of the most important arguments was that the linkages between different policy fields (e.g. child care and promoting career advancement of women) were not always properly taken into account. A recent report by the European Commission on gender equality (Country Profile Austria 2012) pointed out several major issues of remaining or even raising gender inequality in Austria: One area where major efforts need to be undertaken are labor-market-polices, especially regarding women’s employment rates, gender pay gap, part-time-working and work-life-balance as well as the field of the representation of women in decision making positions. The EC proposed a set of actions for raising awareness especially in education and the job market. Austria needs to implement measures to: • Raise awareness among high school graduates regarding the full spectrum of fields of education, amplifying the talent pool by encouraging high school students’ early move into gender "atypical" fields of specialization in the course of their education. • Attract top talent irrespective of gender by actively dissolve horizontal segregation in companies, looking for talents "outside the traditional box" and strengthening the work-life balance. • Reducing the vertical segregation by promoting career advancement of women and eliminating the barriers that limit the advancement of women on the career ladder. It is obvious that not only all these goals are intertwined but also the suggested actions depend on each other and on many other efforts by different governmental actors. Therefore a higher degree of policy coherence is needed. Furthermore the potential success and impact of various programs need to be evaluated ex-ante as well as ex-post. Only then a policy cycle of “planning-doing-checking-(re)acting” can be implemented and the experiences gained can help to improve the overall equality between men and women.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
In the early 2000s a discussion was going on in Austria for a reform of the federal budgeting system (see also Q4 & Q5). The goal was to move from input oriented model to a system of performance budgeting that would not only improve budgetary steering, but also serve as an effective steering system for the whole federal administration and political decision making. The core elements and the draft of the budgetary reform were designed by the the Federal Chancellery and the Ministry of Finance, incorporating broad input and best practice models from other countries through discussions at the OECD as well as input from the OECD itself. In addition in order to gain broad political support, an informal parliamentary reform committee was established in autumn 2004, comprising all political parties and experts. The decision to integrate a gender aspect into the reform package was part of the effort to collect broad backing for it. The reform was intended to be implemented in two stages and that took effect in 2009 and 2013 respectively. Therefore since 2013 public administration at Federal level has been managed according to the principle of outcome orientation. In other words, management will be based on contributions towards achieving outcomes (i.e. objectives) in connection with solving societal problems. This system rests on two pillars. First, performance management on the budget level is implemented as a budgeting principle in the Austrian constitution. All ministries and federal bodies have to define their major objectives and indicators to monitor their implementation. Outcome and output statements are meant to provide orientation for Parliament and the interested public regarding the priorities to be pursued in the next financial year. Outputs should be evaluated annually according to predefined indicators and milestones so that any deviation from the plan can be detected and suitable steps be taken. Second, an outcome oriented regulatory impact assessment (RIA) is mandatory for all new laws, regulations and major projects. All proposals will be discussed on basis of their desired outcomes and outputs and their success will be measureable by the use of indicators and milestones. In defined policy areas (impact dimensions) such as financial impacts or impacts regarding equality of women and men the substantial impacts for each proposal need to be identified. On a general level, this new system is helping gender policies by enforcing a higher level of policy coherence, since objectives, measures and evaluations are in one coherent system ranging from the budget level to the level of individual projects and regulation. But more importantly the principle of equality of women and men plays an exceptional role in the system. When enacting the principles of performance budgeting as an amendment in the constitution, gender budgeting was explicitly named as an obligatory dimension of performance budgeting and that the budgets on all levels of government have to strife for the equality of women and men. At the federal level, each budget chapter (federal ministries are responsible for 1-3 chapters on average) needs to have at least one gender objective (out of a maximum of 5) and corresponding activities and indicators. This means that each ministry (e.g. defense, labor…) has at least one high level gender objective and numerous corresponding measures, ensuring that gender measures are implemented in all policy fields. On the level of RIAs, through the obligation to consider the impact on gender equality, this includes subdimensions like employment, income, education, health or the representation of women in decision-making processes. Therefore all new laws, regulations and major projects are now analyzed for their impact on gender equality, integrating this topic into all policy interventions.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
By increasing gender equality through performance management at the federal level of Austria, as set of new approaches to gender policies has been applied. First of all it entrenches the principle of gender equality at the two most important documents in most modern jurisdictions: the constitution and the annual budget. This is a unique step to ensure policy coherence in this field and raise awareness substantially. Second by ensuring that all ministries need to formulate gender objectives, measures and indicators, the progress of the gender equality can evaluated annually. This significantly increases the transparency of government action in this field, because not only are all these evaluations publicly available, they are also compiled into comprehensive reports that are discussed in parliament. Austria therefore moved from a system of unsystematic reviews to a system where every action is evaluated and results are publicly discussed. And third, with the mandatory gender impact dimension for all regulatory impact assessments, all new laws, regulations and projects, in all fields, need to be analyzed for their impact on equality. This entrenches the awareness for equality throughout the public administration and consequently raises the need to invest in skills to analyze these impacts.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The structural implementation of gender equality in Performance Management is one major part of a comprehensive strategy to reform the Austrian budget system. All in all, the reform was being planned and implemented from 2004 to 2013. Preliminary phase (1990s-2003): Up to 2000 the budget formulation in Austria was very traditional, highly legalistic and input-oriented with no focus on gender equality. This led to growing dissatisfaction within the federal administration. Therefore the budget administration within the Ministry of Finance started to develop reform ideas to counter those problems. In 2000 the government decided to establish an interministerial working group on gender mainstreaming. First pilot projects concerned new forms of budget flexibility, performance information and gender mainstreaming started in 2000-2002. These pilot projects focused only on a number of agencies across the federal public administration and did not comprised the whole federal administration system. Planning phase (2004-2008): The development of this project and the according planning phase took four years. The results from the pilot projects were very encouraging and demanding a comprehensive implementation. Moreover, first gender objectives came up voluntarily at the ministries in 2004. In terms of improvement and offering a comprehensive system, international standards were to be elected and compared with the pilot projects to create a comprehensive steering model for the Austrian federal budget. To reach this objective, mainly the OECD (Working Party of Senior Budget Officials) was used as information pool by asking for a report on Austria (Budgeting in Austria, 2007). Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Federal Chancellery, being responsible for the performance management including the gender equality aspect of this budget reform, developed the reform model and discussed it with important and relevant stakeholders (Q5) to gain broad commitment. Afterwards, it was clear which model was to be applied for Austria and when stakeholders and the political parties were supporting the model, the legal base of the structural implementation of gender equality could be based. Therefore, the gender equality in performance management has been based on the constitution as budgetary principle since its adoption in December 2007. In terms of preparing and supporting the ministries concerning their new tasks, respectively gender equality, manuals and checklists on gender responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming in legislation were provided by the Federal Chancellery. Implementation phase 1 (2009-2012): From 2009 on the Austrian Budget structure has been changed and considered a newly mid-term expenditure framework in addition to the annual budget, budget chapters and program budgeting. However, concerning gender equality and impact assessment, the impact dimension of gender equality which should be assessed in case has been developed. Concerning this, an amendment to the budget act was needed and adopted in 2012. Along the way, the ministers decided in September 2011 that internal and from external source drawn data and information should be gender differentiated collected, evaluated and illustrated. Moreover, the budget IT-tool and the impact assessment IT tool where enhanced respectively established. In preparation for the implementation phase 2 which totally regards the structural implementation of gender equality, the federal chancellery started with undertaking trainings, seminars and consultancy for 2013. In addition, the ministries had already to apply the constitutional based budgetary principle of gender equality for planning the budget 2013. This process started in February 2012 and ended in October 2012 through passing the budget by the Parliament. Implementation phase 2 (2013 - ): Since January 2013 public administration at federal level has been managed according to the principle of outcome orientation. Since then, the principle of equality of women and men plays an exceptional role in performance management and impact assessment.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The Ministry of Finance created a comprehensive steering model for the Austrian federal budget. The performance management and its gender priority were part of this comprehensive model. In the following, this draft model was discussed with the hereinafter stakeholders until it was passed. Considering this broad reform it was crucial to ensure that the reform would not depend on the existing political constellation, but would survive different governments. Thus, the reform integrated all political parties represented in Parliament. Consequently, an informal parliamentary reform committee was established. Since the implementation, the Parliament is responsible for the political control concerning the pursuit of gender equality. In the field of Gender Responsive Budgeting the Federal Chancellery’s role is to monitor, support and develop the methods, processes and results of the gender equality objectives and activities. In this sense the Federal Chancellery trains and consults the ministries, assesses the budget information, reports the evaluation results to the Parliament as well as to the public and coordinates the Austrian strategy on gender equality. Further stakeholders are leaders of the budget managing units of the supreme organs and ministries. They are responsible for the operational implementation of the elements of performance management, especially for the gender equality objectives and the concerning actions. The budget managing bodies are responsible externally in the context of total budgetary planning and execution for the outcome information on the level of budget chapters and global budgets to the Parliament. In addition, the Court of Auditors also acts as major stakeholder. Therefore, it is heavily involved in outcome and service evaluation as an independent agency of the Parliament. Finally, every supreme organ and every ministry had to nominate an appointee for gender mainstreaming. Therefore, they obtain an important role concerning gender equality in the fields of performance management and regulatory impact assessment.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
According to financial crisis and austerity programs (for example the Austrian hiring freeze for the federal public administration) it was prerequisite avoiding additional expenses and keeping the financial costs as low as possible. Regarding this, only technical costs for implementing and extending IT-Tools incurred. The concerned IT-tools are used for data handling, which were financed jointly by the Federal Chancellery and the Ministry of Finance. However, within the organizations personnel was needed to face the new activities concerning the gender equality dimension in the performance management and the regulatory impact assessment. Therefore the supreme organs and ministries asked for gender equality appointees as well as for experts in the field of performance data and regulatory impact assessment. Moreover the named stakeholders had also to concern experts in these issues. In addition, the Federal Performance Management Office was established at the Federal Chancellery to coordinate, support and monitor the implementation at all supreme organs and federal ministries. Referring to the circumstance of hiring freeze and the need of additional staff, the implementation of the reform was only possible by effective task review, process optimization and redeployment. In conclusion only in house arrangements enabled the reform which was a reform in public administration itself. The in house arrangements concerning redeployment and assigning existing staff with new functions required in-depth education in the fields of performance data in general and gender equality in particular. The education responsibility was assumed the Federal Performance Management Office of the Federal Chancellery. It provided and still provides training, seminars and consultancy for conducting performance management and regulatory impact assessment. Therefore, a great number of trainings and conferences were organized. The so-called “platform-meeting” with representatives of all supreme organs and ministries is still in place and is held regularly. In addition, the FPMO also provided manuals and checklists for daily business. The supply of all these educational measures of the FPMO was demanded numerously and scored well. According to a high quality implementation, a bigger number of trainers and change agents also supported line ministries during the booster phase and knowledge was pooled from social partners, academia and the OECD. Finally, all important information was presented on our permanent homepage

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
First and most important, the principle of gender equality in budget law was laid down in the constitution to ensure a continuing implementation. Likewise, gender equality was tied to this new law in a way that ensures, that all federal ministries and public bodies have to develop gender goals within their respective policy fields and consider the impact on gender equality for all new laws, regulations and major projects. However, any legal provisions can only be a fundament for a successful implementation of a reform. Secondly, since the implementation, for the very first time, every supreme organ and every ministry has to formulate one out of five annual outcome objectives and corresponding activities and indicators concerning pursuing gender equality. Hence, the equality of women and men is the only policy to be considered by all ministries and supreme organs in performance management as well as in regulatory impact assessment. Moreover, the implementation and the hereafter execution process lead to an extensive momentous development. In this regard, at the end of 2013 the newly elected government decided to develop a multi-dimensional Austrian strategy on gender equality across all supreme organs and ministries on the federal level. This issue was even laid down in the new working program of the federal government. By achieving this, the stakeholders are working together, coordinated by the Federal Chancellery. The gender equality map determines the fourth output. At a glance, it is made transparent which supreme organs and ministries set which priorities concerning gender equality and could this objectives been achieved last year. Through clustering these objectives in groups (labor market, environment & infrastructure, legal framework and certainty, heightened awareness and competence training, protection against gender based violence) it is illustrated on which policy area the public administration focuses on and which will be rather neglected. Moreover, it shows whether the Austrian strategy on gender equality will be pursued. Finally, an important output is that through defining and evaluating the achievement of the gender equality objectives and by reporting the results to the Parliament by the Federal Chancellery, the Parliament is given an evidence-based support for political control. This report on outcome orientation serves the Parliament with information about whether the government could keep its promises or the reasons why it couldn’t. In this regard the government and the public administration are forced achieving actual gender equality in Austria.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
As explained previously, the system of performance management in Austria has two distinct levels: performance budgeting and regulatory impact assessment. Accordingly evaluations and the monitoring of progress take place on both levels. Whereas all impact assessments have to be evaluated within five years, each budget, its proposed outcomes and indicators are evaluated in the subsequent year. All ministries and public bodies therefore need to collect and transmit all the information about target and actual numbers for all their indicators and provide written statements for the state of their fields and explanations for the development of their numbers. All this data is compiled into a report and after a thorough quality assurance by the Federal Performance Management Office (FPMO) submitted to Parliament. A similar procedure is in place for all evaluations of the ex-ante impact assessments. These too, are collected by the FPMO and submitted to the Parliament. Therefore Parliament is now able, when discussing and adopting new laws to tap into the experience and outcomes of previous regulation. In the context of the evaluation of the budget and its performance management goals, the Parliament can use this information when debating the following budget. In the area of gender equality an overview (“gender equality map”) of all gender objectives and outcomes is also provided by the FPMO, so the state of this issue can be discussed in coherent approach and new objectives can be set in a strategic manner when discussing the next budget. These evaluations and the subsequent reports to Parliament are not only used to discuss the merits of individual goals or regulations. They also serve as the basis for assessments of the whole system as they evidently show areas that can be considered best-practice side by side with others where more effort is needed in terms of efficiently using this tool in the policy cycle. In addition to these inherent assessments of the system there are of course ongoing efforts to analyze the system from an outside perspective. One is a recent study by the Hertie School of Governance (Berlin) that specifically analyzed performance budgeting and impact assessment in Austria. Another evaluation process has been initiated by the Federal Ministry of Finance to explore the effects of the budget reform within the public administration. As gender equality is a core element of this reform, results will show how these innovations support the further enhancement of gender equality.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The implementing of new instruments can be accompanied by a range of potential obstacles and resistances against the unknown and unaccustomed. So when implementing performance management and the associated gender equality directive it was essential to build a considerable amount of momentum and support both within and from outside the administration. The message has to conveyed that change is both necessary and inevitable. Especially in the field of gender objectives, there previously was a lack of strategy, coordination and cooperation within the administrative bodies. On level of application, in the beginning of the reform indicators and activities differed highly in respect of quality and ambition. In addition, with gender equality measures often more than one policy field is affected and multiple stakeholders are involved, so that objectives were sometimes over-ambitious which meant hardly attainable by single institutions. When defining gender objectives, indicators must be specified to be used to make the objectives measurable. Especially in the beginning some institutions refrained from using international indicators and opted for simple indicators like website visits in order to use very current numbers thereby however missing out on more meaningful analyses. In order to overcome these obstacles the Performance Management Office has set several activities varying from regularly consultancy and training for the ministries and supreme organs to providing handbooks and guidelines with strategic information to increase the quality of the outcome information. In addition, through performance reporting it is assured that the success of the political level is monitored and assessed. As a result the ministers are held responsible for their activities which will also contribute to improve the level of quality. Consequently, the office takes its responsibility of coordinating the gender equality objectives on the federal level into a coherent overall strategy for Austria to integrate the different policy areas.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The initiative has resulted in several key benefits for gender equality in Austria. The government and the public administration successfully reacted to the societal change towards gender equality. The topic of gender equality has progressed from fragmented activities in some agencies and ministries to being an essential objective in all government actions. This change reflects a societal shift towards a more comprehensive view of gender equality that transcends solitary issues. As a consequence we believe that this initiative has fundamentally altered the way which public services are planned and delivered. Therefore gender equality is now an essential part of every policy field. Each ministry needs to formulate explicit gender goals and corresponding measures. Thus this topic is now addressed comprehensively throughout the federal administration. Many of the specific outcomes and outputs formulated by the ministries reflect challenges which have been exposed by the public discussion or external reports from the European Union and other bodies. Desired outcomes (and corresponding outputs) in this area include: • Promoting equality in the educational system (reducing gender, ethnic and socioeconomic inequality) (Ministry of Education and Women) • Facilitating the reconciliation of work and family life (Ministry of Families and Youth) • Reintegration of women into the labour market, especially after parental leave (Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection) • Better protection against violence, especially violence against women, children and elderly people (Ministry of the Interior) • Increasing the percentage of women on the supervisory boards of state-owned companies (Ministry of Finance) All these goals are supported by indicators that measure the progress and outputs (activities, new laws, regulations, projects) that are intended to support their achievement. For example the Ministry of Education and Women has the goal to support equality in the education system and one of the indicators is the number of students in schools that are not typical for their gender (e.g. girls in schools for higher technical education). One of the measures to achieve the necessary change, is the setting-up of programs that are dedicated to the increase of diversity and gender competence among teachers. This measure again is connected to an indicator measuring the progress of this specific output. As mentioned above and explained in detail in other parts of this questionnaire (esp. Q2, Q3, Q7 and Q8) all these efforts are tied into one coherent system of planning, doing, checking and acting (reassessing). In addition through the reporting process all gender goals are combined in one single report, which is submitted to Parliament. There, Members of Parliament can now discuss all gender equality measures in Austria in a coherent manner, thereby strengthening policy coherence substantially. With the publication of all outcome statements (goals), outputs (measures and activities) the government has also committed itself to a high level of transparency. For the very first time, all government goals and actions can be assessed by the public and the Parliament. This leads to a more substantial public discussion and attracts many new stakeholders. In addition, with the introduction of outcome orientation as an obligatory part of each budget a permanent process of setting, realizing and evaluating gender goals has been started. Concerning the impact assessment, through the impact dimension of gender equality, which has to be considered in each and every impact analysis, no new law, regulation or major project can be enacted, where effects for gender equality have not been properly evaluated and discussed. In terms of results of these evaluations it has to be noted that the first budget compiled under the new budget law has been the one for the fiscal year 2013. In 2014 all outcome statements and indicators have been evaluated. As gender is of paramount importance for this system gender equality was the only topic in this evaluation where outcomes across all ministries were compiled into one “gender map” and color coded to compare the progress on gender equality throughout the public administration.( see p. 269.: ) This again is intended to strengthen the discussion both in public and in the Parliament. In this way we increase public awareness, political attention and consequently available resources for the further advancement of the equality between women and men.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
As mentioned above, the core elements of the reform are constitutionally based. This is very important, because for any changes a supermajority with a two-thirds vote is necessary. Consequently, a guarantee is given that future governments will need broad support from across the aisle for significantly changing this procedure. Nevertheless, as even reforms with a strong legal basis can run the risk of being ineffective in practice, significant personnel resources have beenand still are invested both to train the civil servants as well as to inform the parliament and the public about the results. Only if the civil service can translate politically desired objectives into significant outputs and indicators the public will be able to use this information for any meaningful dialogue. A replication throughout the federal level is in this respect not necessary as the system is binding for the whole federal level. However there is ample room to coordinate the different players, publish best practice examples and stimulate a collective learning through the entire workforce in the federal administration. As the Austrian “Laender” are also obliged by the constitution to implement gender equality measures, the leadership of the federal level is clearly visible, insofar as several Austrian “Laender” are following the example of the federal state and are implementing similar performance based budgeting and impact assessment principles. They use these tools as well to implement gender equality objectives and mainstream this topic across all policy fields. On an international level, Austria is also very active in promoting and more importantly putting this reform to international scrutiny through fora as the OECD or the UN. Moreover, the Federal Chancellery is exerted to deliver and share experiences on international level through lectures abroad. In fact, these discussions have been essential from the start on, as Austria was able to gain from the experience of other countries by discussing potentials and pitfalls of similar endeavors. Finally, because of this visible innovative system perhaps, international delegations are visiting the Federal Chancellery to be briefed about the implementation of gender equality. In 2014 alone, delegations from Vietnam, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Finland, Germany, Georgia, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Serbia and Moldova visited the FPMO. To many of these delegations the topic of gender equality and its implementation in Austria was an important part of the discussion and for some like Korea, Mongolia and Serbia even the sole purpose of their visit. To conclude, sustainability and transferability of the system has a domestic or intra-governmental perspective. In this domain, we basically try to raise awareness and know-how. This is particularly important in the domain of gender equality, which still needs awareness and attention for its actual impact. We believe that international dialogue is key for implementing and adapting such tools. Moreover, we believe that the system implemented in Austria has the potential to make gender policies around the globe more responsive and to care for sustainability entrenched in all policy fields.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The initiative concerning structural anchoring of gender equality on the political level and in the public administration was part of the biggest budget reform of Austria in the last decades. Therefore, a broad commitment throughout all parties and stakeholders was necessary. The implementation process showed the importance and the ambitious challenge of convincing all stakeholders as well as finding and supporting incubators who move the issue along in their respective field. Especially in the public sector, where a project or a reform needs a lot of players to come together and were power might be distributed among different institutions, reaching consensus takes time and concessions. The structural anchoring of gender equality needed and finally is based on a tough constitutional fundament. However, a reform is not completed with its first implementation. A reform which generally means a total change of an accustomed process should be enhanced in quality in a steady progression. Aside from that, the quality of the implementation (in particular the quality of the connection between sensible outputs, outcomes and indicators) in the beginning is crucial in order to ensure continuing support both within the public service as well as by the political sphere. Nevertheless, concerning the future, there is still a lot to do. As pointed out earlier, this is especially important since the principle of continuously improving any political strategy and delivery of public services in any political field, which is the core idea of this reform, should also be visible in the implementation of the reform itself. Especially in the gender impact dimensions of performance management, there remains a need of comprehensive training to enable all stakeholders to come up with more precise and head-on objectives, outputs and indicators. In the area of impact assessment it is of particular importance to make every civil servant who is responsible for drafting new regulations and planning major projects aware of considering impacts on gender equality. Finally it is to keep in mind, that realizing gender equality is not achievable by the mere implementation of this initiative. Nevertheless, this initiative is responsible for a major break in political and administrative thinking. Therefore, it forces policy makers in all fields to include this issue in their work and in training. Moreover, it enables civil servants in the whole federal administration to formulate, measure and refine gender related outputs and assess impacts of all new federal regulations.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Austrian Federal Chancellery
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Ursula Rosenbichler
Title:   Head of Department  
Telephone/ Fax:   0043 1 53115 207333
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Ballhausplatz 1
Postal Code:   1010
City:   Vienna
State/Province:   Vienna

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